I’ve been an ag banker my entire career and I’m passionate about helping families and businesses achieve their financial goals. Like all my ag-focused colleagues, I value the farms — large and small — and the many supporting businesses that are part of the food supply chain. The products and commodities you grow, promote and sell, as well as all the people you employ, are an invaluable component of the local, regional and national economy.
One of the kernels of knowledge I’ve picked up over my career is how vital it is for any business, especially an ag business, to be matched up with the right bank. But how do you know when it’s a good fit? Here are four tried-and-true considerations:
• Apply the Golden Rule. Service is priority #1 with every business — including banking. Regardless of the size of your farm or business (or the crops you grow), you deserve outstanding service. Every time. All the time. If we’re doing our job right in banking we are ready and willing to earn your business.
• It’s not you. It’s me. As in our personal lives, a business relationship must work for both parties. There are reasons to switch banks. Maybe the complexities of your operations have outgrown your current bank, or you feel you’ve been sold the hot new product instead of what you need. Regardless of the reason, don’t be afraid to “break up” for a better match.
• Expect the best. Many financial institutions can fund a loan or line, but it’s key to choose a banker with specific ag credit expertise to understand your financials and industry. Your banker should be a trusted advisor and a resource year-round, not just when your loan or line is up for renewal. A strong relationship is invaluable — think of it as anytime access to free expertise.
• Are you on a first name basis with your banker? I believe this is the litmus test. A good banker should know why you’re passionate about what you produce or sell and what sets you apart from your competitors. In fact, they should be the loudest voice in your cheering section, rooting you on as you achieve your financial goals.
Working closely with local families and businesses to help them succeed is why I’ve built a career in banking. It’s satisfying to know our clients’ products show up on dinner tables across the nation and the world. That appreciation is one of the reasons I’m at Banner Bank. We’ve been committed to ag business since opening our doors 128 years ago.
Taking a hands-on approach, our ag bankers get to know each client — from understanding their short- and long-term goals to knowing how they bring their product to market. We also work hard to understand outside pressures like fluctuating fertilizer pricing, forward contracting and timing for cash flow. Only then do we tailor solutions to suit a client’s specific needs. This approach makes all the difference in my mind because every farm we drive onto and every business we enter is unique and should be treated that way.
I encourage you to remember your value as a client. When you’re matched with the right banker, they will proactively recommend financial solutions to make the best use of your hard-earned money and propel your business forward so you can focus on feeding America.
Kash Gill is a Senior Vice President and Commercial Banking Center Manager for Banner Bank. From seed bulbs and strawberry starters to cattle and caviar, the Banner team serves diverse ag regions in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Learn more at bannerbank.com.