Relationship banking has unfortunately become as popular as using a pay phone or rolodex. Over the last decade, bankers have been trained by their institutions to be nothing short of order takers and information gatherers. It appears that today’s financial institutions are more concerned with their bankers checking boxes rather than forming long lasting relationships. The result is that bankers are no longer willing to invest the time in the lost art of relationship banking because they are too focused on the short-term expectations and profits demanded by their institutions.
Enter ServisFirst Bank, which opened its doors to the Nashville market in April 2013. Since that time, the office has grown to a team of 10 bankers. As a commercial bank first, ServisFirst only has one or two locations in each region. Their resources are funneled into client services and technology. To explore this relationship focused bank, we sat down with vice president of private banking, Danielle Spence.
AALM: What drew you to ServisFirst Bank? How does it differ from other banks in your experience?
Spence: The dynamic team environment, the bank’s passion for the Nashville market, and being empowered to make decisions. ServisFirst is passionate about our clients and their success. We send referrals to our clients just as they do for us. We differ from other banks by having the ability to make decisions locally, truly putting clients’ needs first, and establishing great relationships with our partners and clients.
AALM: What do you think are the most pressing banking concerns for lawyers?
Spence: In addition to the banker knowing the client and truly understanding their needs, response time is key. It is important to attorneys for bankers to fully understand the situation, whether it is personal, business related, family dynamic, business structure, succession, etc.
Business owners are not looking for silent banking partners. Clients can tell if you do not want to be there for them. If you only visit them once or twice a year, they take notice. Checking in on them consistently shows you are looking out for their best interests and know their needs are important. Today, people are looking for dedicated bankers to advise them in all aspects of their business, acutely understand how to service their banking needs, and be empowered to make decisions on their behalf. Relationship banking entails effort and the willingness to go deeper than the average banker.
AALM: How is the bank involved in the local community?
Spence: The bank is a supporter of several local organizations, including the Tennessee Justice Center, Davis House, Nashville Film Festival and Film Com, Women in Numbers, Nurses for Newborns among many others. Every banker in our office serves on a nonprofit board, including The Pencil Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Junior Achievement, United Way of Sumner County, Family Affair Ministries and Tennessee Kidney Foundation.
AALM: What advice do you have for law firms searching for a long-term banking partner?
Spence: Find a bank and banker that you trust and you are confident will be there to support you in the tough times. Ensure your banker knows you and your needs well. Your banker should be an adviser to you and an advocate for your business.
AALM: Tell us about the brand that this bank has created and the culture it strives to maintain?
Spence: Our name is our mission. Our primary strategy is to stay client focused and practice true relationship banking at all times. We do this by making quick decisions, being creative, and empowering our bankers to make decisions based upon indepth knowledge of client needs. Our team operates in an open architecture with local autonomy and with a true team environment while supporting our local communities. We practice what we preach. I am not certain when or why bankers deviated from this approach. It is obvious to me that the answer to maintaining long successful customer relationships is simple: “Old School” relationship banking.