There is nothing more satisfying than getting to know my customers and helping them achieve business growth and success. Each win for them feels like a win for me, too.

I can tell you without hesitation that UMB’s service approach and business model are what enable me to do that. While most banks may say something similar, two factors help us walk the talk to delivering value and action—our flat banking structure and our one-to-one approach, ensure our clients know exactly what to expect from us. This experience is proven out daily in how we interact and “go to bat” for our clients, and it is a critical part of both UMB’s and our customers’ success.

One of our customers, Paul Larson, CEO of Larson Financial, recently talked with the St. Louis Business Journal about his business growth and his UMB experience. It’s both humbling and invigorating to hear your customer talk about the difference you’ve made for them.

Below I share how I came to work with Paul.

From referral to customer: Listen, learn, get it done

I’m a firm believer that if you do a great job for one customer, other business opportunities will follow. While I’m aways reaching out to new companies to learn about them and meet new people, the power of someone providing a recommendation is undeniable. That’s how I met Paul.

Paul was referred by a UMB customer. When I first started talking with him, he was working with a combination of three banks on a senior credit facility for his business, and their combined bank power couldn’t move quickly enough to provide Paul what he needed.

Paul described his experience as clunky and shared that the multi-bank management experience, and the need to underwrite every credit advance under their line of credit, was hindering their growth opportunities.

After talking with him, we assured him we could provide easier access to capital and a streamlined credit advance process – and we did.

We formed the plan, underwrote the company, and obtained approval in approximately 30 days—something the other companies had been unable to do in more than double that time.

Following that, we became their go-to bankers. We assumed the debt from the previous credit facility, creating a single-bank structure that has grown from $60 million to $85 million. Since we started working with Larson Financial, they have scaled from $4B of AUM (assets under management) to over $7B of AUM managed. Our relationship started because we were able to quickly provide a solution to their problem, and it’s continued because we’ve consistently executed what they need, time and time again.

How we did it (and continue to deliver)

The flat banking structure is not a new idea. UMB has used this approach from the beginning. While many large financial institutions have begun talking more about removing layers and moving to this model, this has always been a cornerstone of UMB’s banking success, allowing us to serve our customers quickly and effectively.

This is particularly true for the lending process, as it provides a hands-on approach with one banker, who can help manage, oversee and maneuver all the internal steps needed throughout the process. This approach is customer-centric and largely eliminates the delays that come with paper moving throughout various departments and people, helping customers gain what they need in a much quicker timeline while still going through all the necessary risk and review steps.

Three key advantages to this approach include:

  1. Experience and empowerment: Because of our structure, our bankers have the knowledge and direct experience with the credit decisioning process to be better equipped to advise, structure, and guide the client toward successfully obtaining the appropriate credit. This opens the door for creativity in complex deals. because we are the ones who closely work with and understand our customers’ business and marry their capabilities with ours.
  2. A banking relationship: Our structure allows for the client manager to remain extremely close to the credit decision process to ensure it is seamless, accurate, consistent and quick. From structuring terms to presenting for credit approval, closing and account management, your banker is the customer’s single point of contact along the way.
  3. No Ivory Tower: Many banks make credit decisions in some far-off land that is not local nor personal. They manage risk in the proverbial “ivory tower” based on a rigid set of criteria that leaves little room for a banker to tell the story and nuances of each request.

UMB is quite the opposite in that we have local credit decisioning and local credit representation that can be in the room with the client, hear the story and champion that request through the process. The credit decision makers are accessible to our clients, streamlining not only the credit decision process, but also enabling direct communication between all stakeholders from beginning to end.

Why this is critical in today’s credit crunch environment

In today’s environment, the truth is that credit doesn’t come as easily as it once did for business owners. And the more people reviewing and evaluating your business from the outside, the longer and more complicated the process will be.

We can be extremely nimble and responsive. There are essentially two steps we take to turnaround credit and, in some cases, just one step.

As a relationship-based bank, UMB has always focused on balancing customer intimacy with operational excellence. Every day, my goal is to tailor solutions to individual customer needs and to develop long-term relationships. This structure makes UMB feel like a small, close-knit bank, but with a much larger credit capacity and the robust technology offerings equal to a national bank.

To read more on this banking relationship, see this article in the St. Louis Business Journal. If you’re interested in learning about how UMB can help your business, please visit our website.

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