As a small-business owner, if you feel like your bank is not meeting your needs, you’re not alone. According to a recent study by J.D. Power, only 32 percent of small-business banking customers feel that their current bank understands their needs, and only 37 percent feel their bank appreciates their business.
When it comes to financial services, small-business owners should never feel forgotten. However, many financial institutions provide small businesses with antiquated cookie-cutter products meant more for consumers rather than providing small businesses with true business-grade products typically reserved for corporate clients.
Evaluating your current banking priorities may inspire you to seek new alternatives and make a switch, especially if there are critical warning signs that your current bank is not meeting your needs. Let’s explore some of the most common warning signs, and on the flipside, what great banking for 21st century small-business owners should look like.
Warning Sign #1: You’re paying tons of fees.
Getting a new business off the ground can be costly, but your bank shouldn’t be the one setting you back with expensive and confusing fees. Being charged a “service” or “maintenance” fee -- which is usually collected when certain requirements are not met -- is probably the number-one indiciator that you’re being nickeled-and-dimed by your current bank. Others include in-network ATM fees, bill-pay fees, incoming wire fees, paper fees and transaction-minimum fees.
You shouldn’t need to pay for standard banking services. Instead, you should have a bank partner who allows you to bank how and when you want, whether that means holding a small balance or conducting as little or as much account activity as your business requires. In addition, you shouldn’t be subjected to numerous penalty fees. You should partner with a bank that has your back.
Warning Sign #2: You can’t do all of your banking online.
As a small-business owner, you are constantly on the go, juggling multiple priorities across the business, day in and day out. You need flexible banking services and solutions that are quick, painless and work for your schedule, not the other way around.
Currently, small-business owners continue to make routine visits to their physical bank branch but are constrained by business hours and long lines. If your bank doesn’t allow you do conduct all of your transactions digitally -- whether that be deposits or applying for and managing a business loan via mobile app or online -- it’s time to think about making a switch.
Warning Sign #3: Business tools and services are not included.
Let’s face it: Small-business bank functionality is limited, lacking specialized tools and services for things like online account management, cash management, payroll and credit card processing, integration with financial services software, advanced payments functionality and more. These are features that large enterprises have come to expect as part of their banking relationship but are absent for small businesses.
Regardless of company size, in order to scale efficiently, small-business owners need access to the same banking features and business functionality as their enterprise counterparts. Unsure as to whether your current tooling stacks up to that offered with a corporate account at your current bank? Request an overview with your account representative to compare features and assess what you’re currently lacking.
Warning Sign #4: You can’t get access to capital.
Accessing financing from a bank is make or break for many small businesses. In fact, according to the Federal Reserve, 43 percent of small businesses applied for new capital in 2018. The reality is that traditional banks are the least likely to approve your loan application. In fact, only about 26 percent of big banks approve small business loans, and 27 percent of small-business owners report that they are not able to obtain adequate financing. Bottom line: As a small-business owner, you likely need financing to thrive, and your bank should be able to give it to you. If you can’t get the financing your business needs from your current bank, now is the time to begin evaluating new options.
Warning Sign #5: You’re treated like an account number, not a partner.
If you are like the 6,000 small-business owners polled in the aforementioned J.D. Power study, you don’t expect all that much from your banking relationship: a collaborative partnership, an account manager who understands your business and open communication. If you’re feeling like you’re just another transaction -- whether that stems from being ignored by a teller, waiting on hold with an automated customer service bot for hours on end or having virtually no relationship with a human account representative -- and not receiving any personalized service, it’s time to consider other options. Your bank should function as a partner with a vested interest in helping your business grow, and any type of banking relationship less than this baseline may be holding you back.
These and other warning signs are unfortunately the outcome of ongoing neglect of the small-business segment within the banking industry at large. It’s important that small-business owners heed these indicators and think critically about whether their current bank checks any of these boxes. If the answer is yes, it may be time to explore new options built with small businesses in mind that include minimal fees, a fully digital simple experience, the same tools and services offered to big corporations, financing options and an excellent partnership.