It is amazing when a customer is proactive with their financier and how such an approach can improve the dynamics of the relationship (as it can with any business relationship). Directors, business owners and senior management can be proactive by taking some of the following actions:
Each year, after annual results are available, you should ask your relationship manager(s) and their bosses to attend, as a group, a presentation on the results by key directors (ideally), the CEO and the CFO. These meetings enable your company to provide the “story” behind the numbers and allows bankers to question you about performance and the upcoming financial year and beyond.
After the financial results have been shared, your CFO (with the CEO) should regular meetings throughout the year; this can be for a general update on matters or if the bank(s) want to discuss something specific. These meetings should ensure that the banks never receive any unpleasant surprises.
You should encourage your bank(s) to better understand your business through site visits. These are an opportunity to “show off” your business and local management are generally proud of their businesses.
Your bank(s) should be kept informed of business opportunities within your company, be it foreign exchange lines for operating companies, banking reviews or financing needs.
Your CFO (or alternatively your CEO) should acts as 'gateway to the company' for your bank(s). Where banks have specific areas they wish to discuss, the CFO should always try to arrange meetings with the appropriate people within the company.
It should be an unwritten rule in your company that any response to banks, particularly your major relationship bank(s), must be prompt, even if it is a 'no thank you’.
Commentators have stressed the importance of being open with information in a banking relationship - the 'no surprises' policy. This should be two sided. Good business relationships imply trust and trust develops when two parties respect and get on with each other.