How to choose the right commercial bank for your company

How to: Advice for small businesses

Last updated on June 22nd, 2022 at 04:00 pm

A commercial lender is a critical partner for any business owner. In addition to providing financing and fulfilling your banking needs, great lenders serve as advocates and connection-makers. A lender who is not a great fit for you, however, can be frustrating to work with while also limiting your business opportunities. So, what makes a great commercial lender for your business?

Make a connection

Most importantly, choose someone you have a connection with. Does your banker take a genuine interest in your business, or does it feel like you’re just one among a sea of clients? Get a referral for a lender from another business owner or ask potential lenders how they’ve helped businesses like yours. Better yet, ask for references and follow-up with those customers.

Invested in your success

Is your banker going out of his or her way to ensure you succeed? Is he or she proactively reaching out and checking to see if there’s anything you need? Find someone willing to invest time and energy in helping your business prosper. 

Familiar with the market

Choose a commercial lender who knows the community your business is in. A lender who is fully present in the community will understand how your business fits in, what your needs are, and how to reach your business potential.

Where are decisions made, by whom, and how quickly?

Accessibility is a huge factor when choosing a commercial lender. Larger banks often make decisions out-of-state. On the other hand, decisions at community banks are made by people who live locally and know the impact of the decision on the area.

You’ll also want to know how quickly your commercial lender can make decisions so you don’t miss critical deadlines or opportunities.

Support through business cycles

Knowing the history of the bank you’re considering and how they’ve supported customers through various business cycles is an important consideration. If your business goes through an economic downturn (hmm … maybe a pandemic?), will the bank offer you flexibility and support you through the downturn? A bank that works with you to find solutions is one that’s truly invested in your success.

Services offered

In addition to business term loans and lines of credit, does the bank offer financing options for operating funds, equipment purchases or leases, and real estate? You’ll also want to know if the bank works with local economic development organizations. Further, does the bank offer business deposit products and cash management tools that help with your accounts payable and receivable? The right online banking tools can help you run your business more efficiently.

Find a commercial lender who is honest, transparent and dependable – someone you can build a relationship with and who will go out of his or her way to find financing solutions that work for your business. And then, make sure they deliver.


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Aaron Lensink is a Senior Vice President and Business Banking Manager for Forte Bank. He is responsible for overseeing the bank’s business lending activities, growing the bank’s commercial portfolio, and enhancing the commercial client experience. He also is a member of the bank’s Executive Leadership Team. Aaron has led Forte Bank’s strategic commercial lending growth in Southeastern Wisconsin. His three-year average growth in new loan origination is 83.7%. This loan growth helped Forte Bank achieve four consecutive years of 10% overall loan growth, with the last two years at nearly 20% loan growth. In addition, the bank’s commercial book of business has more than doubled in size in three years. Aaron also led Forte Bank’s PPP loan program, helping 351 clients secure a total of $25.6 million in PPP funding. Aaron has been intentional about building the Forte Bank commercial lending team. He is focused on team success and empowering team members to perform their jobs well. In addition to hiring two new commercial lenders, he has developed the portfolio manager position so clients always have someone in the bank who is consistently available to answer questions. Aaron has taken an active role in local organizations that promote the growth of the community, including board positions with the Medical Center Foundation of Hartford, Hartford Area Development Corporation, Hartford Downtown Business Improvement District and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington County.

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