Today, our lives seem to be run by technology: smart phones, GPS, computer programming, social media, to name just a few. Technology has allowed those of us in the farming and ranching industries to make outstanding, and in some cases, almost unbelievable advances. More food, fiber and other raw commodities are being produced with fewer resources than our forefathers had. Thanks to electronic communications, we are able to spend more time bettering our operations. But with the rise of electronic communication comes the fall of personal interaction. And today, more than ever, relationships matter. Not just for our social and emotional health, but also our economic health. The amount of time invested in a relationship, business or personal, indicates how much we care about that person or business doing well.
In business, nothing is quite as important as cash flow (money) – how much is available, what can be spent, etc. As important as money is to running an operation, it is equally important to know that you have a banker who really cares about your business and your success.
Does your banker ask the right questions? A good banker knows what questions to ask. How and when do you plan to market your cattle or grain? What risk management tools do you use? Do you have a back up plan should a natural disaster happen? What is the ultimate goal for your operation? Your banker should show a genuine interest in your operation and its future.
Does your banker care how your business is doing year round? A good banker cares about your operation’s well being at all times, not just at loan renewal. He/she will stop you at the feed store to ask how much the calves weighed, how much rain you got, how well the hay did, how much corn did you get to the acre? He/she will sympathize with you over the price of fertilizer, the drop in cattle prices, the fluctuating commodity market. His interest is not just to see if you can make that payment at the end of the year, but a genuine interest in the day-to-day operations of your farm/ranch.
Is your banker knowledgeable about your industry? A good banker knows what he/she is talking about and what he/she is lending on. When making a livestock inspection, he/she should know what a pair is, the difference between a first calf heifer and mature cow, and can estimate the weight of feeder calf. Does he/she know the difference in the types of crop insurance? Can he/she tell whether that is corn or soybeans planted in your field?
Relationship banking is crucial to the agricultural industry. We are a hands-on industry and we need bankers who are also hands-on and involved alongside us. A good agricultural banker knows his/her stuff and can be a source, not just of funds, but advice and knowledge as well. When you do well, so does your banker.
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