Small Business Banking: What You Need to Know – Andrew Shannon, Wells Fargo

The 2020 pandemic was the most transformative event in recent memory.  Business sectors all over the world scrambled to pivot and recalibrate and the commercial banking world was no exception. Due to the pandemic, businesses presented an entirely new set of challenges for the commercial banking industry and savvy institutions stepped up with new products and services to meet those needs.

On this week’s episode of The Playbook, host Mark Collier, business consultant for the UGA Small Business Development Center, is joined by commercial banker and Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo, Andrew Shannon. Today, Shannon shares his insights into commercial banking, and specifically, how Wells Fargo Bank is meeting the emerging needs of the business banking community.

Transcription:

Mark Collier:
Welcome into The Playbook, Andrew.

Andrew Shannon:
Good morning. Thank you for having me, Mark.

Mark Collier:
All right then. Wells Fargo is a very well recognized brand, both here in the Southeast and actually around the country.

Andrew Shannon:
Absolutely. Thank you.

Mark Collier:
So tell me, what are some of Wells Fargo’s commercial banking core services for their business banking clients?

Andrew Shannon:
Well, at Wells Fargo, in our middle markets division, we have comprehensive products and services that we have. We are located throughout the country, as you just mentioned. 48 states, 240 different cities. And we bring a plethora of products and enhanced products and services to allow our clients to meet their needs.

Mark Collier:
All right. Are there any signature bank products or services for that banking middle market that you’d like to touch on?

Andrew Shannon:
Yeah. I should highlight that we have several different segments within the middle business, middle market banking. We have middle markets. We have corporate banking as well. And those segments allow us to meet with the clients and determine what segment they might want to fall in. And in there, we have a robust treasury platform that we have state-of-the-art products and services for the clients. And as well as financing, we have fraud protection. And more importantly, we have 80 different lines of businesses that we can get a client to, to allow them to meet their needs in a proactive fashion.

Mark Collier:
Okay. You mentioned treasury services, that’s a term that’s not very familiar with a lot of small businesses. Can you go into what treasury services are?

Andrew Shannon:
Absolutely. So treasury services is when you provide products to the client that allow money in and out of the business by wires, ACH to transform a money in and out of your organization, to enhance some of the balance sheet performances, because sometimes you’re collecting your money faster with these products and you’re getting your money out faster to the clients to meet the demand of your invoices and things of that nature. But more importantly, it allows you to put efficiencies in your organization. So as businesses grow, typically when a business is in the growth stage, that’s when we introduce these treasury products to allow them to create efficiencies and safety within the organization.

Mark Collier:
All right. Well, I’m a big efficiency buff, man. I believe in better, faster, cheaper. And if those services that you just enumerated can help businesses achieve that, I can see why they’d be something that’s well received. So competitive advantage, that’s the holy grail of all business models and commercial banking is a highly competitive sector. So kindly share with me and my Playbook audience how the Wells Fargo client experience differentiates you from your competitors.

Andrew Shannon:
Well, as most people do not know, we service more midsize businesses than anyone else in the United States from a financial institution.

Mark Collier:
I did not know that.

Andrew Shannon:
And with that being said, as I said, we have bankers throughout the States in the market, and we have enhanced due diligence with our clients in understanding what their needs are. And we specifically tailor our products to the clients’ needs to allow them to meet their financial goals and aspirations. So we pride ourselves that our bankers have enhanced knowledge. Over 20 different industries that we might service, agribusiness is one of them, investment, real estate, you name it, we have the products and services and the expertise, which is key, to get in front of the client in a proactive fashion to make the advice and recommendations to them.

Mark Collier:
All right. That’s important to small businesses. A lot of business owners today, they don’t want transactional relationships, they want deeper relationships. And what you just touched on about Wells Fargo being a financial partner for those business, I can see where that can help you certainly increase market share. All right. So with the pandemic year of 2020, as I said on my lead in, was very much transformative. So what adjustments did Wells Fargo make in terms of your business banking strategy for this current year of 2021 as a result of the pandemic year last year?

Andrew Shannon:
Once again, I’ll lead back to being proactive and meeting with our clients regularly. Understanding their specific industry, as I mentioned, we have product professionals and industry professionals at every turn. So once we meet with clients, we understand what the pitfalls is, what experiences they’re having at the moment. And we can bring products and services, more importantly recommendations in a proactive fashion. I can’t emphasize that enough, that it’s in a proactive fashion. And it’s industry specific. So we’re not a one size fit all organization when we meet with our clients. We really pride ourselves on understanding their needs, understanding some of the trials and tribulations they’re having in their industry, even in their sector or geographically things change. So being that we have local decision making capabilities.

Mark Collier:
Oh, that’s important.

Andrew Shannon:
So something on the West Coast might not be affecting someone on the East Coast or the Southeast. So since we have professionals in every asset of our banking segments, we can bring a tailored product to the client to make sure they’re not only abreast of the pitfalls, they know how to address them. And most of the time, a lot of time how to avoid those particular pitfalls.

Mark Collier:
Well, I like that. I like that. In my consulting work with my clients, that’s important. I talk to my clients about what are your goals, your challenges and your pain points. And it sounds like you’re doing a lot of that with the banking relationship as well, and I’m sure that delivers great value to the clients you guys serve. All right. Listen, the media’s always talking about the bad things that happen out here with big companies, but I like to focus on a good thing that I read the other day. Wells Fargo has given Morehouse college a grant of about $350,000 to specifically help their minority small businesses. Tell me about that. I think that’s a phenomenal effort and I’d like to learn more.

Andrew Shannon:
Absolutely. So Wells Fargo recognized that the challenges that the minority entrepreneur experiences. And in that case, we created a fund over at Morehouse and dedicated $350,000 that is specifically geared towards helping the minority entrepreneur navigate those pitfalls that we mentioned earlier, get training, technology, advanced technology that they typically wouldn’t have access to. And more importantly, professionals such as myself and other people within our organization to make sure, because when the clients start out that’s the most challenging piece because they know their business, not specifically banking. So one of the things we do across all facets is we want you to focus on your business, and the growth, and the strategies, and allow us to bring the advice, the financial means, and the tools to be successful. So that fund is specifically dedicated for that minority entrepreneur to get off to a great start and have access to professionals, advice, and capital to make it happen.

Mark Collier:
Okay. Well, that’s important. I thought it was just a capital fund, but you guys are also wrapping around technical assistance to the entrepreneurs as well.

Andrew Shannon:
Absolutely. So in that funding, it allowed them to go out and get the technical expertise, be it by advisory capacity or consultative basis, or even purchasing some of that technology and putting it in their organization early, or even have access to someone like myself, once again, where we have it all across all lines of business and we’re making ourselves available specifically during this time.

Mark Collier:
All right. So now I want you to look into your crystal ball and take a look into the future here. So what are some of the unique challenges you see on the horizon for the commercial banking sector and how do you see Wells Fargo stepping up to help businesses meet those challenges of the future?

Andrew Shannon:
Absolutely. So one of the things that’s on the forefront and on everybody’s mind right now is the effects of the pandemic. All businesses, any size, large, small, middle size businesses, all been affected and have to go back to the drawing board and create new strategies, new implementations, be it folks working co-located to their homes and also still being able to conduct business. So we’ve tailored our approach with clients to make sure we can still meet their needs, even if we’re not in front of them. We’re being very conscious of how we bring the products to the market to make sure even if somebody has experienced some pitfalls, we tailor our product offerings to still be able to be available to them at any time.

Mark Collier:
Well, that’s important. Once again, back to that recurring mantra of not just a transactional bank, you guys want to be a relationship bank with your customers. That’s the point.

Andrew Shannon:
And actually we pride ourselves on not being transactional, we’re more relationship. So even when we meet with clients, we’re looking at projections and strategies that they are looking at 3, 5, 10 years down the pike. So they don’t make early decisions that create a problem in year five, they make that decision in year one. So we’re there from soup to nuts, all the way through the process to help you. On a proactive fashion. I can’t emphasize that enough because that is really key. And being more of an advisory capacity versus transactional.

Mark Collier:
Well, that sounds like a core strategy of your core offering, is being a proactive and being a financial partner.

Andrew Shannon:
Absolutely.

Mark Collier:
All right. Andrew Shannon, senior vice president, Wells Fargo Bank. I want to thank you, man, for taking time out of your busy day to come in and share some of the unique strategies and how Wells Fargo Bank assists the middle market segment.

Andrew Shannon:
Absolutely. I appreciate you having me. We always make ourselves available at any time.

Mark Collier:
All right. Have a great one.

Andrew Shannon:
Pleasure. Thank you.


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