Blog   Tagged ‘partner’

How to take advantage of your banking partner

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Is your bank helping you make money?

Optimism is on the rise among business owners. This is the first year coming out of a down cycle in the economy and businesses are ready to grow. They are looking to expand operations, hire new talent and purchase new equipment. But they are also searching for new strategies, financing options and ideas for better market penetration. In today’s economy, one of the best partners a business can have is their banker. Ask yourself if your banker is:

  • bringing more to the table than monthly reports or the weekly “how’s it going” call
  • strategizing with business owners on how to expand operations, create more efficiencies and generate more revenue
  • understanding every aspect of a business, from cash flow to risk management and payroll to IT services.

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Here are a few areas bankers can help businesses strategically grow and profit in today’s economy.

How Does Your Cash Flow?

Most business owners talk about the importance of cash flow, but not many go deep into the process and determine how to make it better. Businesses need to ask questions such as: How many days does it take to collect on receivables? How long are you paying on collectables? Are you getting discounts for paying early?

A lot of companies are operating inefficiently.  They are duplicating internal steps or making extra steps to receive money. It costs $2 to $5 to mail a check, whereas sending an Automated Clearing House (ACH) payment costs less than $1. Businesses need to review how much time it takes to print, stuff and mail a check versus using a card or ACH payment.

By working closely with a banker, businesses can gain cash flow relief and create better efficiencies in their operations. Bankers also can help business owners create a profitable and logical cash flow system.

Risk Management and Efficiency

Risk management is exactly what it sounds like. Anything businesses can do to manage risk will ultimately benefit their bottom line. This includes having dual controls with employees, doing regular inventory checks, having different people sign off on checks and having a process to detect and deter internal and external fraud. So much risk can be diverted simply by paying attention to the small, everyday details.

Risk efficiency is something bankers also should discuss with businesses as it relates to items such as outsourcing payroll or return collections. Often times there are functions that businesses can outsource to save time and money. One of the main things to be outsourced is payroll. A payroll provider can help save a company time and money. They may also accept tax liability so the employer isn’t responsible for tax penalties.

For companies with large receivables, it may be more efficient to have a lockbox or outsourced collection system. Bankers can greatly reduce time and efforts for clients that have high receivables. Another area to outsource is IT. Businesses can outsource their IT needs to a third-party group in order to save time, headaches and money.

Creating Operational Efficiencies

Bankers understand cash and business cycles. They can help a business create operational efficiencies in several areas, including payments, cash flow cycles, commercial cards, reconciliation and so on.

One example is the process of purchasing equipment. As businesses expand their work, make repairs or replace units, they may find themselves making multiple purchases throughout the year. Rather than go through the process of taking out a separate loan for each investment, companies should map out their anticipated needs for the year and take out a line that will cover all potential investments. Not only will this save time, but it also provides flexibility to buy new or used equipment and to proactively plan for capital expenditures they may want to make during the year.

Purchasing cards are another item to consider from a processing standpoint. Not only does the right program provide valuable rewards, but it also cuts down on check writing and provides increased flexibility in cash flow. Additionally, it creates a more streamlined tracking system for accounting departments. By allowing job numbers to be attached to specific expenses, companies can easily allocate costs to the appropriate projects, which results in more effective planning and budgeting.

By working closely with a banker, businesses truly have the opportunity to expand and grow through creating efficiencies in areas they never knew could be improved. Any operational, cash or risk management improvement will ultimately improve a company’s bottom line and their outlook for future growth opportunities.


Mr. Bibens is a treasury management officer for UMB’s Commercial Deposits department. He is responsible for providing consultative technology and cash flow management solutions to companies and public entities throughout the Greater Missouri area. He joined UMB in 2010 and has 10 years of experience in the financial services industry.



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Balancing Act: The changing landscape of commercial banking

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Technology has changed the way people do business. It’s also changed the way they do business banking. You can transfer money between two business accounts in minutes with online banking or complete and submit your entire expense report on the computer. Technology gives you the convenience of having greater control over your company’s finances. But that shouldn’t change the business partnership you have with your company’s bank.

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Like any relationship, creating and maintaining an effective partnership requires regular communication between you and your bank partner.  A strong relationship with your company’s financial institution not only enhances your customer experience, but also helps the bank balance quality service with a high level of information security.

Customer Experience

Your banker should know your company beyond what can be learned from a monthly commercial credit card statement. Your bank should act as an extension of your business and not just a place for you to keep your corporate accounts. Understanding the business cycles and unique financial needs of your engineering firm or your agriculture business gives your bank the insight to be a partner working with you on developing ideas to help your business succeed. This experience begins with a simple but powerful idea: know your customer.

For example, a bank that uses “know your customer” requirements for you to access your account can take this information and use it as a chance to get to know you and your employees better. At UMB, we require you to provide information that will uniquely identify you as the customer you say you are when you call us. These precautions are also good security measures to reduce potential fraud on your accounts.

Information Security

Having a strong relationship with your bank is important to your information security. Most banks will monitor spending habits to check for fraudulent activity on your commercial cards. For example, if a commercial card for a construction company starts posting a series of expensive charges at a department store within several hours, UMB might flag that account for suspicious activity or even put a hold on the card to stop any further transactions. Some might see this as too constrictive and even intrusive, but if you have a good working relationship with your financial institution you’re more likely to view this type of monitoring as a partner looking out for your company’s financial well-being.

So what can you do as a customer to keep the two-way communication open? Keeping your profile with your bank up-to-date makes it easier to verify who you are when you need to contact them. This also helps your bank ensure an accurate and safe customer experience.

Balancing self-service, customer service and information security is a challenge. A good bank should maintain the fine line between giving you the freedom to run your business and manage your finances, while remaining a loyal business partner who will always looks out for your best interests and the financial safety of your company.


Mr. Wegner is vice president and commercial card product manager at UMB. In this role, he is responsible for product development and program design for new and existing programs. He joined UMB in 2011. He earned an MBA in Management from Rockhurst University in Kansas City MO. He is a member of the NAPCP Public Sector Advisory Board.



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The business of doing good: How to manage your non-profit’s finances (Part 3)

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Recently, UMB hosted a group of almost 40 representatives from Colorado Springs non-profits to talk about a variety of financial management tips for non-profit organizations. In my previous blog posts I highlighted two topics that came up during the conversation: streamlined fundraising processes and supporter/employee enthusiasm. The third subject we discussed was the idea that non-profits need a bank that acts as an extension of the organization.

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Most people probably don’t automatically make the connection between a bank and a non-profit, but the two organizations can work together to create a productive partnership. An important part of the support non-profits need to thrive is the relationship they have with their bank. Since funding is the primary way to ensure that the non-profit can continue to operate, good financial management is key. A strong relationship between a non-profit and their bank may give the staff peace of mind and help them to focus on doing good things for their community and less about their financial management.

Some challenges that non-profits face include getting sufficient funding, board and associate development and staff retention. Your bank may be able to direct you to resources that can help you overcome these challenges:

A good relationship with your bank can also help your organization achieve a sound financial structure. In addition to keeping the organization up and running, a solid balance sheet could help attract new leadership to your organization. One of our non-profit clients came to us with a potential board member who was interested in joining the organization’s investment board. The potential board member was passionate about the organization but concerned about their investment risk management. After talking with UMB and the non-profit leadership about the investment risk, he was no longer worried and joined the board because he could focus on his passion for the organization.

Non-profits offer many invaluable services to their communities. While these organizations differ from for-profit businesses in their mission and goals, they have the same business principles. Treating the financial management of a non-profit like a business helps the organization in the long run because they’re able to focus on serving the needs of their community.

 

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Mr. Doyle is community bank president for UMB’s Colorado Springs region. He is responsible for guiding strategic direction in the Colorado Springs region as a member of the Colorado management team. He joined UMB in 2011 and has eight years of experience in the financial services industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla. and a master’s degree in business administration from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla.



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