Don’t bank on it (Best of)
With all the consolidating, downsizing and bankrupting going on banks are eliminating all sorts of services such as tellers and interest on savings accounts. But as far as I know, you can’t get your loan approved at the ATM yet. Unfortunately, your banker is still going to want to meet you face to face to check on your fiscal health.
I thought I’d pass along my expansive knowledge on this subject by giving you some tips:
• Dress for success not excess. If you show up looking too prosperous your banker will assume you are misappropriating his funds and will “vocationally relocate” you. In other words, he’ll put you out of business. It’s best to wear a simple shirt, work boots and your darkest blue pair of jeans, that is if you haven’t already had to sell your ripped Levi 501’s or Wranglers to some fashion conscience teenager to pay overdue bank charges.
• Should you be on time or fashionably late? If you are punctual he’ll assume you are “personnel surplused.” But if you are late your banker will be mad for making him late for lunch. Knowing how he likes to eat plan on arriving two hours early.
• Avoid the hand off. Sure you are uncomfortable with your banker sitting there as aloof as a mountain goat, but this is better than being handed off to his administrative assistant. That’s a sure sign your “loan package” has been “displaced.”
• Body language is critical. If possible, touch your banker in a non-threatening way. A caress to the elbow or a light hand on the shoulder has a calming effect. But don’t invade his considerable personal space with a choke hold to the neck.
• Sharpen your communication skills. Drop important names, mention management books you plan to read and use big words like “transaction” instead of “blackmail.” Doesn’t “professional fees” sound much better than “extortion?”
• Don’t be defensive. Your lending agent is going to bring up your past lending record that probably resembles the bank’s wallpaper: an ugly repetitive pattern. He’ll refer to your “performance indicators” and “past lending practices.” Assure your banker that your performance is for real this time… no more practice.
• Don’t talk a lot. You won’t have to explain something you never said. When your banker talks about “break-even ratios” and when you might be able to pay a little on the principle try not to laugh out loud. Do not sweat or cry on the paper work either.
• Banker’s love “business plans.” Tell him you are “reallocating resources” and diversifying by selling cow chips as an alternative fuel source. Mention that you will harvest some valuable grain this year. (Don’t tell him your yield will be measured in cereal bowls per acre.) Be optimistic. In projecting a break-even assume your sows will have 30 pigs per litter and mention that you are developing a cow herd that will calve only every other year so you’ll only lose half as much money on your calf crops.
• Tell your “partner in progress” that you are reducing frivolous expenditures such as your wife’s chiropractor and exorbitant hourly interest charges on bank credit cards. He should be glad to hear that you are consolidating all your debt with his bank.
• The days when you can satisfy your banker with numbers on a matchbook cover are gone. Instead, buy a computer so when the banker asks for the numbers you can use the same excuse the bank always uses… “Sorry, but my computer is down.”
• Don’t drink alcohol before your meeting. Remember, this is a person with the power to force you into early retirement or to “involuntary separate” you from your job at a time when the whole world is in a “work force correction.”
• Assume nothing. Just because the banker’s daughter is your wife doesn’t mean he’ll help the two of you realize your full potential by approving your loan.
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Jill Rigler is not your average 17 year old.