In the COVID-19 era, keeping in touch and staying connected is a challenge, both in our personal and business lives. However, by applying technology and ingenuity, we can find ways, and the payoff is enormous.

If you are a business owner or financial executive, one person you don’t want to lose touch with in the current economic environment is your local banker.

GET CREATIVE TO STAY CONNECTED

As a banker serving area businesses for many years, I’ve seen the value executives derive from meeting regularly with their bank relationship manager. It gives them an opportunity to describe their organization’s goals as well as obstacles they’re facing, and for the banker to report trends, offer new ideas and suggest financial solutions.

So don’t let the evolving work environment interfere with the regular cadence of discussions with your banker. Meet by phone. Schedule a video conference call. As local health guidelines permit, meet up for coffee/lunch or book a tee time. Do what you can to keep the lines of communication open. Your business will benefit.

More than ever before, your banker can be an indispensable resource as you adapt to a host of new challenges.

Securing financing during an uncertain economic environment. Maintaining a regular dialogue enhances the relationship and gives your banker the chance to come up with a loan structure that works for you. Your banker can also educate you about the wide range of financing possibilities beyond traditional lines of credit — ranging from asset-based borrowing to raising funds in the capital markets.

Keeping financing costs low. Organizations have an opportunity to potentially reduce their cost of capital by locking in historically low interest rates. Bankers can introduce you to hedging experts at their institutions who can help you execute solutions such as swaps, caps, and collars.

Selling or expanding your business. Recent changes in the economy have many owners considering selling their businesses or raising capital through a partial sale, while others are looking to buy businesses and build their companies opportunistically. Partnering with a bank that has investment bankers with relevant experience optimizes outcomes for business owners.

Future-proofing the payables operation. Many companies were unprepared when the pandemic forced accounts payable staff to work from home, making check issuance problematic. Your banker can help you explore solutions to build up accounts payable resilience and improve your working capital cycle, including check outsourcing, electronic payment options such as Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions and commercial cards, and integrated payables automation.

Meeting growing customer demand for contactless payment options. The pandemic has also placed a higher priority on meeting customers’ desire for contactless payment options that address both issues of convenience and health. Your banker can describe opportunities for integrating emerging digital options — such as electronic invoicing and digital payment network alternatives — into your accounts receivable process.

MAINTAIN A DIALOGUE WITH YOUR BANKER

During these uncertain times, most of us are finding creative ways to stay in touch with parents and relatives, with neighbors and friends, and with colleagues, customers and suppliers. We’re doing that because those relationships are vitally important.

So is the one with your banker. Be sure to stay connected.

Spencer Smith is a Managing Director and the recently appointed Los Angeles Market President for MUFG Union Bank, N.A., which has a 150-year history of serving businesses on the West Coast and is an affiliate of the world’s fifth largest bank. MUFG Union Bank is actively pursuing lending business in the current environment and has a locally based investment banking team, Intrepid Investment Bankers LLC, focused exclusively on meeting the capital raising and M&A advisory needs of middle market companies.

Financing subject to credit and collateral approval. Other restrictions may apply. Terms and conditions subject to change.

Investment banking services offered by Intrepid Investment Bankers LLC, member FINRA/SIPC, and subsidiary of MUFG Union Bank, N.A.: NOT FDIC Insured • No Bank Guarantee • May Lose Value

©2020 MUFG Union Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Union Bank is a registered trademark and brand name of MUFG Union Bank, N.A. unionbank.com 

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