Agriculture Bankers Need to Go "Old School" To Be Successful

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By Shaun Haney

There was a time when your banker was your friend, your confident and your advisor.  This was especially true in agriculture where farmers had a very close relationship with the man that was lending them the money.  Your banker lived in the community, he knew your business, he analyzed it, and gave you recommendations on what was best for your business.

In many ways this is not the case today.  The agricultural banker and farm client relationship has turned into something more similar to a TV salesmen and regular consumer.  I do not believe that this is the fault of the account managers on the ground serving the farm client.  They have been instructed to sell credit and not consult.  The trouble is that most advertising still talks about this close cosy relationship that binds the two stakeholders together in the long term.

When I talk to many farmers they talk about wanting to have that more traditional relationship back.  Farming is a complex and tough business.  One that requires you to be the mechanic, manager and marketer.  As I discuss this topic with many farmers across the country they really sincerely want that more consultative relationship back.  Farmers don’t want credit shoved down their throats just because they have the balance sheet to access the capital.  Farmers want a relationship with their banker that allows for growing a business sustainably with the correct amounts of debt without the over extension just because they can.

Farmers wants answers to questions like:

What should I do with the future of my land?

How do you think my business could be better?

Would more land make me more profitable?

Would you buy more cows?

Most farmers are not like big business that can afford expensive consultants.  The farmer’s only real consultant he ever had outside of the family kitchen table was the banker that knew his business very well.  This not an attack on all bankers but just the trend in general.  I believe that the agricultural lender that enacts on returning back to the “old school banking” first will be the one that gets all the business from agriculture that they can handle.  I believe that farmer;s really do want this partnership with the bank back.  Sometime going “old school” is not a bad thing.

In your opinion ……What bank is doing the best job?  Who would you recommend to your farmer colleagues?  Let us know in the comment section below.

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