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Bankers could use some coaching when it comes to farm teams

PAT DALRYMPLE
BANKERS HOURS
Pat Dalrymple
GPI-DalrymplePat-CMNM-mug

Bankers don’t understand the farm team concept.

Casey Stengel, the legendary Yankee manager, went into banking after he left the dugout, but he apparently influenced the suits a lot less than he did the national pastime.

Financial institutions are generally at a loss when it comes to courting and developing new talent. And we’re not talking about junior executives, here, but rather borrowers, the lifeblood of banking.

Banks are great at community relations, and rightly lauded for their involvement in supporting youth activities, but there’s an abrupt disconnect about the time kids leave high school.

Casey Stengel, the legendary Yankee manager, went into banking after he left the dugout, but he apparently influenced the suits a lot less than he did the national pastime.

Ball clubs and hockey franchises have extensive farm and semi-pro feeder systems. A very small percentage of the players in these programs make it to the bigs, but the ones who do are money in the bank.

But what to banks do? Not much, really. Financial institutions are reactive: They wait for the next Facebook founder to show up in the lobby (but often fail to spot him or her when they do).

Practically every great entrepreneur in the last 100 years or so didn’t qualify for bank financing when they started out, and, with the current regulatory mandated limits on lending, a lot fewer do today.

But, just like in sports, maybe 5 percent will someday. And when that elite group does merit prime financing, there’ll be 50 bankers falling over their briefcases to lend money to them.

A major league club finds a raw power hitter, puts him on a class D minor league team, assigns a hitting coach to teach him to hit something besides a fast ball, and maybe, just maybe, the franchise ends up with a batting champion.

Banks could adopt the same concept. For example, stage “Entrepreneur Fairs” where a lot of unqualified potential bank borrowers get guidance on borrowing outside the major leagues (the banking system). Or hold seminars on alternative financing for small businesses and start-up enterprises.

Bankers do spend some marketing effort and dollars on telling business people about what the bank does, and what the business person must do to be one of the fortunate few borrowers. But they stop there. It’s like the Red Sox saying, “Hey kid, come and see us when you learn to deal with a curve ball.” That kid may be a Yankee by then, if New York was the one that promoted his career.

Ideally, a banking exec should take the extra step of keeping in touch with that guy or gal with the crazy idea that started out with nothing and had to raise cash at stratospheric rates. If lightning strikes, the banker that gets the app for the next line of credit will be the one that made a few supportive phone calls over a couple of years.

What about the 95 percent that don’t make the cut? Well, they don’t disappear from the face of the earth. They close down the business that didn’t succeed, lick their wounds, and go to work for somebody else. And, ultimately will need every financial service from checking accounts to car loans to mortgages.

Even if they’re not entrepreneurial geniuses, people remember who paid attention to them when nobody else would.

Pat Dalrymple is a western Colorado native and has spent almost 50 years in mortgage lending and banking in the Roaring Fork Valley. He’ll be happy to answer your questions or hear your comments. His e-mail is dalrymple@sopris.net.


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