A capitalist society like ours demands effective financial decision making by individuals, families, and small businesses. Our economy cannot function without a banking system either. Therefore, we all need a reliable banking relationship for our planned progress. The recent history has eroded the public trust of the banking sector forcing us to question the reputation of banks. This brings us to the dilemma of selecting a strategic banking relationship with a financial services institution that is mindful of its social responsibility.
The World Economic Forum has identified the criterion for what makes a socially responsible bank that would be an effective partner in the economic progress of any society. These Criterions are:
- Governance: In the purest form, Governance requires the balancing of individual, organizational and societal interest with the goal of sustained progress.
- Regulatory Compliance: Self governance in the collective leads to relaxing of regulation. Regulation is nothing but a “break system” when the movement is in a dangerous direction. Just like a car needs breaks so do commercial activity impacting society. Complying with existing regulation and self governing allows for easing of the regulation and avoiding new regulations so that commerce can thrive.
- Client Advocacy: Focusing on the needs and wants of clients to drive economic progress one individual or business at a time is the ultimate purpose of any bank. By fulfilling this purpose, a bank becomes vital to the economic development of a community thus earning sustained competitive advantage.
- Social Responsibility: Banks needs to have a mutually beneficial relationship with its client base as well as underlying society to be viable. This is also the socially responsible way to perform the banking function. Lack of social responsibility is akin to being a parasite upon society; a relationship that ultimately destroys the parasite upon the demise of the host.
- Fair Compensation: Perception of clients is the reality for any organization and banks are no exception. Therefore, it is imperative to actively listen to the voice of clients and not be gouging profits.
When you find a bank that embodies these five critical factors, you know that you have struck GOLD! This is not easy to come by, in the world we live in today. “Got Ethics?” is not a question we overtly ask a banker; we must discern it through continued interaction as part of the relationship building process. Know what a bank values:
- Banks value time of length of relationships
- Banks value types of relationships
- Banks value locations of relationships in conjunction with local branches
- Banks value history of relationships
- Banks value other banking relationships
Then, build a relationship with a socially responsible bank meeting the criterion listed above such that the bank knows what you value. Good banks know that you are more than just a customer who is looking for transactional services; they will build a client relationship to enable mutual transformation where both parties in that relationship emerge better than the state they entered that relationship.
In our local community, we have the opportunity to select from an array of global, national and local banks. A local banker embodying the criterion we have explored is Mike Daniele of First Midwest Bank. Under the proven track record of “We Focus on YOU” value proposition this bank is known to uphold:
- Client Focus
Mike Daniele of First Midwest Bank embraces the client relationship by transcending the transactional customer relationship as I have learned firsthand. Offering a plethora of services across our local community, Mike Daniele serves our market place with Personal Banking, Business Banking and Wealth Management needs as a trusted banker.
In selecting your banker and trusted financial risk advisor, here is a road map to follow:
- Do your homework and get to know the banks in your community
- Make sure your short list of banks meet the socially responsible financial institution criterion
- Explore and determine if the bank’s mission statement is consistent with how it functions in your community-Avoid two faced banks that say one thing and do another
- Find a banker who will listen to your “voice” and serve you, within the bank that that meets your standards
- Think of your banker as your Treasurer, a strategic partner to help mitigate financial risk
- Look for a deal maker not a deal breaker, someone who will guide you right
- Look for someone who understands relationship management and keep you in focus
- Look for business experience
- Look for someone you would be able to brain storm with and build a personal connection
- Don't assume you need a big bank; you just need a trusted bank
**Do share your thoughts and lessons learned on selecting a trusted banker so that we can all learn from each other’s experience. By collaborating we can work in tandem to grow our economic viability, building financially stable families and local communities. I look forward to an engaging discussion! **