Is your lender doing everything he or she can for you?  Is your lender meeting your personal and business expectations? Could he or she do more to help you meet the daily challenges you face?

I ask myself those questions everyday as they relate to my clients. You should ask yourself those questions as they relate to your lender. 

Bankers can, and should, become trusted advisers for their clients. A trusted adviser is a person in which you have faith and confidence; and who is empowered to advise you. 

Bankers have a large customer base from which to draw ideas, make comparisons and offer suggestions. With that background, they should do more than just supply capital for your business. They should help you evaluate the complete business and help you think outside of the traditional format.

Identifying needs
Each time a member of my banking team visits a farm business, he or she completes a customer-profile sheet. That profile identifies far more than the borrower’s credit needs.

What’s more, it is constantly updated so that we can continue to identify and meet the customer’s needs.

As part of this profile, we discuss the following points:

  • What kind of financial statements, tax returns and budgeting does the farm work with? 
  • Who are the other advisers for the business?
  • What role does the family play in decision-making process?
  • Does the person have an estate plan and what does it look like?
  • Is there a wealth-management plan in place?
  • Is the business and personnel properly insured with the right type   and amount of coverage? 
  • Are personal/family needs being covered?  
  • Does the producer use risk-management tools to protect his product’s price?
  • Does he/she use risk-management tools to control input prices?
  • Does he/she understand the risks and possible advantages of using risk-management tools? 
  • Does he/she use available technology to have up-to-date information about the farm readily available? 
  • Does he/she update and compare the business’ current performance with projections for the year?

  This list of questions may seem a bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Your banker should be able to assist in each area or at least provide referrals to people who can help.   A banker can and should be a trusted adviser. 

Ask your banker to step up
Pork producers are so involved in the operations day-to-day management that having a banker that’s a trusted adviser has its benefits. 

Look at it this way: Every banker exists because of his or her customers, and every customer is important.  If your lender doesn’t currently provide any value-added services, ask him why not? Remember, there are other lenders out there.

Customer service starts with making the loan process easy to navigate. But great customer service is achieved when lenders draw on experiences from their broad array of clients to help each one chart a viable business path in a rapidly changing world.

The way financial institutions set themselves apart is in their ability to add value to a relationship. That’s why it’s wise to look for a trusted adviser that offers you more than money. 

By Anthony DeRose, executive vice president of Wells Fargo Bank in Visalia, Calif.