Information for Financial Institutions

Become a Trusted Advisor

The FI role in the small business ecosystem.

Deborah Sweeney

By Deborah Sweeney

Small businesses owners want their financial institutions to be more than just lenders; they want them to be partners who help them achieve their financial goals, increase efficiency, and free time to focus on growing their companies. However, many financial institutions fail to meet expectations: A BlueVine survey discovered that just 9% of small business owners say their financial institution addresses their needs – and 69% of SBOs say they would switch to a new financial institution if it provided the features and services they need.

Relationship building is an important aspect of small business financial institutioning, but some financial institutions miss the mark there, too.

A J.D. Power report found that just 37% of SBOs feel appreciated by their financial institutions, and just 32% feel their financial institutions understand their businesses. Perhaps even more telling: less than 20% of small business owners say their FIs proactively recommend financial solutions, according to BAI Research.

Today's small business owners are seeking solutions that go beyond commercial lending and deposit accounts. They view financial institutions as partners in their success, and financial institutions that embrace the trusted advisor role have a competitive advantage that fosters account holder attraction and retention.

As part of that role, financial institutions can steer account holders toward additional products and services that can help them achieve small business success – and help FIs compete against fintechs that woo SBOs with single service offerings. By offering a gamut of small business solutions, then tailoring those solutions to each individual small business owner, financial institutions can nurture meaningful relationships that lead to long-term loyalty.

The onus, of course, is on financial institutions to establish a suite of integrated products that cater to small businesses, then reach out to SBOs to demonstrate their capabilities and benefits. For example, if a financial institution partners with a company to offer small business filings, it can launch a campaign to promote an “all-in-one business setup” package to startup companies. Or, if a credit union expands into payroll or treasury management, it can market those services as integrated packages that help established businesses save time and increase efficiency.

With heavy competition from fintechs and an economy in disarray, now is the time for financial institutions to adopt their roles as trusted advisors, then leverage those relationships to position integrated offerings to small business owners. SBOs can then count on their financial institutions to help them navigate uncertain times and position their businesses for success: A win-win for both organizations.

Cater to the small business climate

Next: Cater to the Small Business Climate

Both startups and established small businesses have immediate needs to prepare for success, and financial institutions can easily position themselves to meet them.