I was very fortunate to have a meeting, well a coffee and a chat, with Savekers Ltd's previous relationship manager from HSBC last week. This is the man who saw what we as a company faced during the last few months of trading - up close and personal. We are all very guilty at pointing the finger of blame at the banks and at anyone else that will allow us to avoid accepting our own faults and responsibility for our situations. It seems that in particular we target those that represent banks and that we come into contact with.
This gentleman however kindly agreed to meet me just to talk. I became aware on the 10th March (the day we went into administration) that our failure to get through the situation was something he also took personally. The relationship managers from the banks, the good ones, are really caught between a rock and a hard place. He told me how he had to be a shoulder to cry on as well as being target of frustrated directors on a regular basis. Banks and business leaders should be uniting - have they forgotten we are the customer? Are we forgetting that if we were asked to invest our own money we wouldn't just 'hand it over'. Why are the divisions between us so vast?
He gave a talk on the subject of "How to get the best from your Bank". The main message that came through this very comprehensive and entertaining presentation was to communciate with the banks. If you want them to loan you money, work at it! Answer their doubts before they have chance to cast them. Be serious and clear in your aims. Jean even suggested that you collect the bank's representative and bring him to your business - if you want someone to help you, get off your backside and make the effort.
My advice would be not to view the banks as the enemy - try and get them onside. Sooner or later they will have to start realising they also need to work at the relationship too. Banks needs businesses, successful ones. Let's all pull together - we're all working towards the same goals, aren't we? I challange the banks to proactively talk to business leaders and try and improve their understanding and start providing a service. Is the 'relationship' manager the correct person to act as a motivator and strategist? Why don't they send someone the company will trust to do this and let banks do what they should be doing. I would welcome talking to the banks about my experiences, not to criticise but to help improve things. It's time to change.