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Questions to ask a commercial banker

Questions You Should Ask Your Banker (for Business Owners)

Banking / September 13, 2020

If you’re a business owner, you already understand how much saving money can make or break the success of your business. What you may not know, however, is how much your bank can help you get there. Instead of seeing your bank as a transaction-only operation, start viewing your bank as a financial resource to help your company grow and thrive. 

Here at Cornerstone Bank, we’re all about helping our commercial customers in the Kansas City area (and beyond!) make the most out of their banking experience. We care about what happens with our customers, so when you succeed, we do too. 

Below, we’ll review the top questions to ask your commercial banker to get your business in the best shape possible. 

How long does it take to get approved for a commercial loan?

How long it takes for you to get approved for a commercial loan depends on a couple of factors. First, you want to think about the type of commercial loan you want. In general there are three you could choose from: 

  1. Commercial real estate loans (including investment properties)
  2. Business lines of credit 
  3. Equipment loans

The approval process could vary from type to type. For example, getting approved for a line of credit may be an easier process than applying for a real estate loan. 

Are You Really Ready to Buy a New Company Building? →

Next, you’ll want to consider the bank itself. Bigger banks may take longer since they are supplying loans for businesses across the country. Basically, you are in line behind who knows how many people. With a local bank, you may experience faster turnaround times. Plus, communication is a lot easier to get updates and ask questions as you continue through the process. 

In general approval can take around three to six weeks. However, at Cornerstone Bank, we can quickly approve your loan. All decision makers are local, and our bankers can let you know within 24 to 48 hours of having your information whether your loan is approved. 

Who decides whether or not I get approved for a loan?

Your lender will decide whether or not you get approved. In some instances, you will get pre-approved so your lender will have a better idea of which loan would work best for you and your qualifications. However, pre-approval doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get the loan. You still have to go through the official approval process. 

After collecting your information, including checking your credit report and collateral you plan on using to secure your loan, your lender makes the final decision. To be more specific, decision makers could include an underwriter and/or a loan committee that ensures everything is in order or whether they need more documentation. 

How to Improve Credit for a Business Loan →

How are my interest rates set?

For commercial loans, your interest rate comes from: 

  1. Federal Reserve policies and requirements
  2. Market value and economic landscape 
  3. Your personal financial situation 

What you can do to get the best interest rates possible is by boosting both your personal and business credit scores. When banks trust that you can pay off a loan on time, they will be more willing to give you the best rate possible. 

How long have you been with the bank?

You should always ask your lending officer how long he or she has been with the bank. Someone with years of experience with the same financial institution tends to understand the approval process better and can better guide you along the way. Plus, a veteran lender could have more power and say to get the process streamlined, leading to faster turnaround times for you and your company. 

The last thing you need is someone who is inexperienced. That means, he or she may not be able to efficiently get the job done or ease any of your concerns. We understand it may be a little scary to ask this kind of question, but knowing the answer can definitely help you in the long run. So don’t be intimidated!

Why do you require an environmental assessment to get a loan?

Environmental assessments are often crucial to determining the liability of a property. This works in the best interest of both you and the bank. For example, the bank wouldn’t want you to purchase a property that comes with a lot of problems. As a result, that helps you avoid properties that could hurt your business rather than help it. In addition, if the property ever goes into foreclosure (of course, we’re not saying this will happen), your bank wants to make sure it won’t be an environmental liability for them. 

Basically, you should think of an environmental assessment as an extra padding or safety net. You will feel more secure in your decision, and the bank will feel better about lending you the money for the property.

Why do I need an appraisal for a commercial real estate loan?

Your bank should always be clear in their requirements and why they need something like an appraisal. An appraisal is an assessment of the value of your property (or the property you are looking to buy). This allows the bank to gain more insight on the building so they know how much money to lend will make the most sense. 

When getting an appraisal makes sure you:

  1. Hire an appraiser who is private from the company: Do not use an appraiser that is affiliated with your company. There could be biases involved that could affect how he or she assesses the value of your property. 
  2. Have an up-to-date appraisal: Typically your appraisal needs to be dated within 12 months of your application date. So an appraisal you received a year and half ago probably won’t work. It’s best to talk to your bank about their specific requirements.

What kind of resources and technologies do you have to help my business reach its goals?

You should always ask what your commercial bankers can do for you, and that includes the technology and other resources they have. Especially for businesses, it’s important that the bank makes operations easier, not harder. You shouldn’t have to stress about dealing with your bank; in fact, you should be relieved every time you speak to or work with your bank!

We can’t speak for everyone, but here is what Cornerstone Bank offers our commercial banking customers each and every day:

Personal one-on-one assistance at all times: Since we are a local bank, you don’t have to worry about always dealing with a machine. We 100% understand how frustrating it can be to go through countless prompts without having a real person to help you out. That is why you can call us and always speak to one of our bankers or come into our Overland Park office (yes, we’ll even greet you by name). If the office is closed, don’t worry! We give our customers our personal cell phone numbers so you can still reach us at any time for emergencies. 

Bank From Anywhere capabilities: You know what would be a huge hassle? If you always had to come to our office or ATM to complete your banking needs. We don’t want to put you through the added stress. That’s why we allow all of our customers to bank from anywhere. Because of our ATM policy, essentially, any ATM in the world can be a Cornerstone Bank ATM. Therefore, our customers enjoy ATM refunds of up to $8 per account per statement cycle. 

What is Cornerstone Bank’s ATM Refund Policy? →

Mobile and online banking capabilities: What’s a bank if you can’t bank on-the-go? At Cornerstone Bank, we believe in bringing our banking experience wherever you are. Because of this, we have a mobile app that allows you to monitor your accounts, open accounts, deposit checks, and so much more. Our app also includes up-to-date banking, touch ID, facial recognition for quick login, an “instant balance” feature, and the ability to customize your card’s security settings. Plus, you can always bank online whenever you’re connected to the internet. 

Personalized financial advice: When you bank with Cornerstone, you become a part of our family. As local business owners ourselves, we understand what it takes to run a smooth and successful business. From our inside knowledge, we can give you advice on information like when to apply for a loan, how to save money each year, best practices to keep track of your finances, and more! At the end of the day, we are more than simply your bank; we’re your all-in-one financial resource to help your business grow. 

Learn more about questions to ask a commercial banker with Cornerstone Bank. 

More than anything, our bankers are here to help you with any of your business needs. Since 2001, we have been a primary resource for businesses across the Kansas CIty metro and the country. We take pride in watching our customers thrive, no matter how big or small the company. 

We alway put our customers first, and that means giving them the best banking has to offer. We don’t believe in simple banking; rather, we go above and beyond to help our customers make their money work for them. 

For more information about questions you should ask your banker (or if you have questions already ready), visit our Overland Park office or give us a call at 913-239-8100 to let us know how we can help.