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There may be several financial institutions in your area that offer business bank accounts, but you cannot determine the “best choice” based on the bank’s age, size, or advertising claims. Ultimately, finding the best business bank account for your business starts with identifying specifically what you want to achieve with your banking relationship — now and in the future.
The questions below may help determine which bank can best support both the financial needs of your business, along with your longer term business goals.
Does the bank specialize in businesses like yours?
Not all business bank accounts are the right fit for every type of business. Your business may share commonalities with others in size, region, years in business, and annual revenue, but the challenges and opportunities that come with your business are unique. As you consider different banks, explore what types of businesses they serve. Do they offer solutions geared toward your industry? How familiar are they with your local market? Are they well-versed in SBA loans? The business relationship you have with your bank can influence your ability to reach profitability, maintain adequate cash flow and expand to establish a unique point of differentiation from competitors.
- If your business is small with little-to-no plans to grow, in start-up mode, or is seasonal in nature, you may not know the average monthly balance you’ll be able to maintain, or the payment tools you’ll need to purchase goods from vendors, and accept payments from customers. Narrow your search to banks that offer business checking accounts with a low (or no) monthly minimum balances and fees, debit cards, online banking, fee-free wire transfers and unlimited incoming deposits.
- If your business is well-established, in growth mode or operates internationally, consider banks that have an extensive footprint (around the country or world), offer cash management solutions like lockbox, remote deposit capture and fraud prevention for checks and payments, and/or specialize in high-value or cross-border transactions.
Does the bank offer tools beyond traditional accounts?
Javelin Strategy & Research reports that digital solutions and payments services for small businesses have “…lagged significantly behind consumer and commercial banking.” As a result, many small business owners may be hindered by a lack of access to the technology they need to effectively run their business. A bank that offers additional business tools may provide you turnkey solutions to run your business — including the ability to process card payments, offer gift cards, or manage loyalty programs and inventory. Know that having digital and mobile access to your business bank account is a top priority? Narrow your search for a bank only to those brands who are equipped to deliver all of your needs virtually. If you’ll rely on your bank for more than traditional financial services, limit your search to those that offer value-added tools.
Does the bank offer the ability to build credit?
Building a formal business credit history can document your businesses financial responsibility, and could work to your advantage if you intend to bring in business investors, partners, or want to sell your business. Not all banks offer credit cards or similar products for business clients; those that do may be more willing to issue credit to a business customer who has an established relationship with it.
Does the bank assign a relationship manager?
The best business bank accounts establish relationships, much like a consultative relationship between the client and a bank representative. If a personal touch is important to you, look for a business bank account that provides a relationship manager who is vested in understanding your business, and how the bank can help support it. If you’d prefer to handle most of your businesses’ financials online, however, a relationship-based model may not be necessary.
If you do opt for a bank that assigns a relationship manager to your account, consider the level of authority and expertise the person who will support your business holds, and whether the business bank relationship will suit your need for a minimum of 18 months. Meet with relationship managers at a few banks to gain a sense of how they interact with business clients, and to gauge whether their approach aligns with your expectations.
Is the bank preparing for the future?
Technology is changing business payments at a rapid pace, and banking is increasingly moving to a digital environment, allowing for faster processing times. Not all banks are equally invested in keeping up with the technology changes, particularly when it comes to meeting the demands of small business clients. While many banks now offer digital conveniences like person to person payments for consumers, not all have the capability to offer a similar services to business customers. Smaller banks or credit unions may be more flexible with fees, compared to larger banks, but not all have the resources to support the latest banking technology.
Research the business banking solutions that a variety of banks offer; compare what is available in the broader market, and from each specific bank. The bank you choose should offer the benefits most important to you, support the financial needs of your business, and be investing in technology and infrastructure enabling them to be your business banking provider for the long haul.