In my previous post, I talked about how I was recently unable to get a line of credit with the bank I’d been using for my corporation for the last three years. I had obtained the original corporate credit cards under my husband’s name and his credit rating while he was an officer of the corporation.
In order to use my husband’s credit rating - which I had to do while working to build up my own credit - we had to make him the majority shareholder of the company even though it was my company and revolved completely around my work.
More recently, we agreed he should no longer be involved in the company because he just wasn’t entrepreneurial and was uncomfortable with irregular payments from clients and juggling things to manage cashflow. As a serial entrepreneur and freelancer, I’ve had plenty of experience with handling finances without a regular paycheck, and it doesn’t freak me out anymore.
After the bank I had been using for three years refused to extend credit to me and only offered me vague, broad reasons, I decided it was time to look for a new bank.
I had pretty specific criteria for the bank I needed for my business, namely:
1. National - I needed a bank that was present in Alaska but also in other states in the Lower 48, particularly the Rocky Mountain region where I hoped we would return sometime and where I also do business.
2. Women’s program - While the bank where I had been banking for over three years had a women’s program, it seemed like nothing more than lip service. Each time I asked my bank representative for information about the program, he was vague and kept pointing me to the web site. He clearly had no idea about what, if anything, his bank offered women business owners.
3. Relationship-oriented - I wanted a bank that wanted my business and that would act as a partner in the success of my business. I wanted to finally, after three years, have a good relationship with my bank and bank representative. I wanted to feel like I could call a person who would know who I am, and remember details about my business and previous conversations we’ve had. Someone who treated me like a valued customer. Was that too much to ask?
Identifying a Bank
The first bank that came to mind that I knew was national and that also touted a women’s program was Key Bank. I knew nothing more about Key Bank other than I’d interviewed Maria Coyne, Executive Vice President, Community Banking, Key4Women National Spokesperson, KeyBank National Association, for one of my freelance magazine columns. I had also met her briefly in Alaska when I first moved to the state while she was visiting briefly.
I decided to stop by Key Bank on a whim and enlisted a good friend to come along with me. My friend has a multi-million dollar company in town, and I knew she had a good sense about not only about business finances but about dealing with banks.
I found out that if I asked for $50,000 or less, the paperwork would be minimal. Sounded easy. My friend asked a few more questions about interest and other technical things. I was really glad she came along because I had no idea what to say or what to ask.
My Big Blogging Idea
Before I knew that my original bank wouldn’t be able to help me at all, I came up with an idea to blog about my experiences trying to get onto my financial feet after coming out from under my husband’s financial wing. I wanted to be honest about my experiences and to share them with other women who might be experiencing similar challenges.
Then I thought of another idea: Approach Key Bank about my blogging and ask them if they’d walk me through the steps of trying to get a line of credit and explain everything to me (unlike my current bank) so I could become better educated. Even if they, too, rejected me, at least I’d have a better understanding of the things I needed to do to look more attractive to a bank in the future.
The folks at Key Bank’s Key4Women program were excited about my project and completely willing to participate. I began to have a hopeful feeling for the first time…about a bank. I laid out my entire story for the Key Bank representatives in a conference call. I didn’t candy coat anything. I wanted them to know the truth about my predicament because only then would they be able to offer me real advice.
I wasn’t expecting any special treatment, and they weren’t about to give me any. They also requested that I not mention my current bank by name in these blog posts because that wasn’t how they did business - they did not want to appear to be bad-mouthing the competition. And they haven’t. They simply focused on me, my financial needs, and the reality of what they found over the course of looking to provide me with a line of credit.
And the reality wasn’t pretty.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of my blog series on how I’ve been working through some business financial hurdles. (Read Part 1)
Have you ever changed banks? Why did you do it and did the change do you good?
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