I continually ask myself if i am doing everything I can for my clients.  Am I meeting their expectations? Could I do more to help them meet the daily challenges they face?

I believe bankers can, and should, become trusted advisers for their clients. I define a trusted adviser as a person in which faith and confidence is placed and someone who has been empowered to advise. 

Bankers have a large customer base to draw ideas from, make comparisons and offer suggestions. With that background, they should do more than just supply capital for your business. They should help you evaluate your whole business and help you think outside of the traditional box.

Identifying needs
Each time a member of my banking team visits a dairy, he completes a customer-profile sheet. Within this profile, we identify far more than just the credit needs of the borrower. And, we constantly update it in order to better identify and meet customer needs. As part of this profile, we discuss the following:

  • What kind of financial statements, tax returns and budgeting does the farm work with? 
  • Who advises the business?
  • What role does family play in decision-making?
  • Do they have an estate plan and what does it look like?
  • Do they have a wealth-management plan in place?
  • Are they properly insured with the right type of coverage? 
  • Are personal/family needs being taken care of?  
  • Do they use risk-management tools to protect their milk price?
  • Do they use risk-management tools to control the price of inputs?
  • Do they understand the risks and possible advantages of using risk-management tools? 
  • Do they utilize available technology to have up-to-date information at their fingertips? 
  • Do they update and compare current performance with their projections for the year?

This list of questions may seem a bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Your banker should be able to provide assistance in each of these areas, or at a minimum provide referrals to people who can help.   A banker CAN be a trusted adviser. 

Ask your banker to step up
Dairymen are so involved in day-to-day management that having their banker take on the role of trusted adviser could be of great value. 

Look at it this way: Every banker exists because of his or her customers. And every customer is important.  If your lender doesn’t currently provide any “value-added” services, ask him “why not”?

Good customer service starts with making the loan process easy to navigate. But really great customer service is achieved when lenders draw on their experiences from the broad array of clients they work with to help each client chart a viable business path in a rapidly changing world.

In my opinion, the way financial institutions set themselves apart is in their ability to add value to a relationship.

Anthony DeRose is an executive vice president of Wells Fargo Bank in Visalia, Calif.