David & Goliath: How Community Banks Are Different Than Giant Banks

In October 20, 2016

Jim Nelson interview

15 Minutes with Senior Commercial Lending Manager Jim Nelson

As a small community bank who thrives by helping its surrounding community grow and succeed, building relationships with our customers is a priority at Horizon Community Bank (HCB). We enjoy them getting to know us, too.

In that spirit of sharing, we spoke to Jim Nelson, our new Senior Community Lending Manager, about his new role at HCB!

What brought you to Horizon Community Bank, Jim?

It’s tremendously exciting to see the loan growth that Horizon Community Bank is experiencing, and I’m thrilled to work with a locally owned, locally operated commercial bank with such a tremendous breadth of products and types of loans. My background fits this environment, with ample experience in commercial real estate and small business loans. I enjoy the credit and lending side of finance.

How do customer relationships different at a community bank?

Building relationships at a community bank is very different than a big bank. I’ve worked at banks fitting all ends of the spectrum. At Horizon Community Bank, we take time to deeply understand each customer’s business, going beyond simple financials. We learn about their trials and tribulations, and their specific areas of concern. This allows us to watch for areas that might benefit them, help them manage risk, and even share non-confidential details learned from similar companies that have built a better mousetrap.

Plus, by visiting their location, we can see more intimate details, such as changes in employee morale, office cleanliness or how busy they appear. We can look for trends, ask how certain successes were accomplished, note operation expense changes, gauge the status of their business and ask how we can raise the bar for them.

Jim Nelson, Senior Commercial Lending Manager, Mesa AZUnderstanding their cash flow cycles beyond a review of their P&L statements helps us help them, enhancing their revenue with loan structures customized to fit their unique situation, rather than offering cookie cutter products that might harm their business long-term.

We’re an integral part of their business’ success and a proud partner, not a banker looking to upsell the latest product.

As a local business who relies on other local businesses in our own neighborhoods for our success, we’re focused on right financing instead of how much product we can sell. Their success is our success.

Because of this relationship, we’re able to learn how each customer likes to interact with their bank. Some prefer to be left alone unless they have a need and find annual face-to-face meetings work well for them, but others like a higher level of active involvement with quarterly location visits. We tailor our engagement to fit their preference.


How do you view Arizona’s current economy?

Arizona is coming back strong, from an economic standpoint. We’ve weathered the storm and pent-up demand is driving a high volume of borrowing, now that businesses are more comfortable taking on debt and spending their cash reserves. As we see a more stable marketplace unfold, Arizona businesses are beginning to expand.

The high volume of lending is currently a reaction to specific needs, rather than general borrowing. Businesses are deciding they need to add new locations or a line-of-credit for specific purposes… even launching new construction. These are all signs of a recovering economy.

Arizona businesses are ready to borrow, and we have funds to lend.

Is it time for a small business loan? Learn more here

Why are customer relationships and understanding the local economy helpful to a local business?

In order to help a business successfully match their financial status and future plans with the right financing products, a banker needs to be aware of local industry trends on a statewide and micro-local basis. Understanding their customer’s financial picture is just a fraction of “the story” and level of risk for a particular type of loan. A savvy banker aligns borrower credit with conditions of the local market and financial health of the industry surrounding that particular borrower.

If a borrower is looking for a new construction loan, for example, a local bank enmeshed in the commercial real estate community will have the connections to match them with local developers who are well suited to the size of construction project needed. Because they’re actively networking and banking within the community, they have their thumbs on the financial health and stability of that community and the industries nestled within it.

They know the players.

What business wouldn’t want to leverage that kind of intelligence for their own success? It makes a difference.

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