Relationship Banking: How Well Does Your Bank Know You?

Earlier this year, at an American Banking Association conference for community bankers, a writer for Forbes magazine made the following observation:

“The bankers I met with have redoubled their efforts to spread the news in their respective communities that they are open for business, prepared to lend, and have a growing bias toward a recovering economy.”

While we agree with that, the author’s larger point was that relationship banking was making a comeback and community banks were leading the way. We appreciate that he noticed, though at FNB-Fox Valley we never thought relationship banking went out of style in the first place. Building consultative relationships with our business and consumer clients is how we’ve done business at FNB-Fox Valley for 125 years.

FNB-Fox Valley consultative banking relationships

What is relationship banking? Well, defines it as follows:

Financial services marketing in which a bank’s customer service representative (also called account officer, customer relationship representative, personal banking officer, etc.) attempts to meet a customer’s needs with a complete package of facilities. The package may include most or all of services such as cash management, credit cards, deposits, loans, money market investments, etc., that may be summarized on a single bank statement.

Somehow, that doesn’t seem to say relationship. We look at it a little differently. We believe relationship banking should be about establishing a consultative partnership providing you with the assistance you need to succeed and grow.

How do you know if your bank takes that approach? There are three simple questions to ask:

Does your bank know who you are?

To build a good relationship, your banker should be providing financial and management advice that helps you make beneficial decisions. They have to really know you!

Of course, when you’re working with a community bank, it’s a lot easier to get to know your banker because he or she is local. They can give relevant advice based on a keen understanding of the community and the local economy. Decisions aren’t made based on models developed in another state with no knowledge of you or the local community.

In the case of FNB-Fox Valley, the farthest you’ll ever go for an explanation is Neenah.

Does your bank have the right services?

There are banks that offer every conceivable service or financial product you could want. But are those products right for you or your business? Is there someone who knows enough about you and your business to recommend a combination of products and services that will help you grow?

Just because community banks are smaller, does not mean they don’t have the banking services you need. Additionally, they can often tailor a suite of services to fit your particular situation.

FNB-Fox Valley, for example, offers a complete range of commercial banking services, from its award-winning SBA lending program to treasury management services to simple corporate credit cards. They also have a highly qualified team that will help determine which services are best for you.

Does your bank care about your success?

Because of their local and regional service areas, community banks tend to be much more concerned about the success of Main Street vs. the success of Wall Street.

When you’re meeting with your banker, the emphasis should be on ensuring a positive outcome for both parties, not just the balance sheet of the bank.

To learn more about the benefits of a consultative partnership of  a community bank, visit