ss_blog_claim=bd50edc517cf0b7549fe6b5f63b6b5f8 The SLS Business Finance Blog: 5 Questions of a Banker: Courtney Barbito, Washington Mutual Bank

Monday, September 10, 2007

5 Questions of a Banker: Courtney Barbito, Washington Mutual Bank

Washington Mutual Bank (known affectionately as WaMu) started as a west coast based mortgage company and community bank. They have expanded into a nationwide presence yet still keep the community bank feel when someone goes into the branch. Courtney Barbito is the Financial Center Manager (branch manager that means) of the Buckhead Atlanta, GA branch of WaMu.

1. What is the most common banking related issue facing small businesses today?

The most common banking issue is related to check clearing times. Small Business owners typically need checks deposited to be made available immediately, even if the bank does make the check available at the time of deposit there is still a chance the check could return causing a snowball effect of bank charges and returned checks. Banking technology is improving however we are not yet at the point where checks clear instantly. I suggest an electronic ACH service to ensure that funds are good when accepting checks for payment.

2.What does WaMu offer in terms of programs or other offerings that makes it unique and different in the banking environment?

The biggest difference that WaMu has is our branch design and customer service levels. WaMu tries to keep it simple! All of our branches have the exact same hours and the exact same lay out. We do not have a cut off time for transactions which means that small business customers can make deposits at any hour and the deposit will credit same day (pending any check holds). Our branch managers and business banking specialists have the ability to help customers without making 18 phone calls to other departments for approvals. Talk about saving time!!

3. Since every business owner knows they need a business checking/operating account, what is your most valuable service WaMu offers to a business that most businesses don't know about or think about right away?

Every business will have different needs but one piece of advice is to stick with what you do best. WaMu offers payroll services through PayChex and a variety of Treasury Management and Cash Management Services that match the needs of our business customers. We can even recommend a CPA in your area if you do not yet have that relationship. My advice is let the experts handle the parts of your business that you are not an expert at!

4. Which loan program is your most popular?

Our Business Line of Credit is a favorite among customers. It can be used to get you cash when you need it most. Loan amounts $100,000 or more can be linked to your checking for Overdraft Protection free of charge.

5. What does a business need to do to help improve their chances of being improved for a bank loan?

Contrary to popular belief, you do not necessarily have to have credit established in the business name. On the other hand, banks do require personal guarantees from the business owners. A business owner's personal credit and assets can be used to determine credit worthiness. The number one thing a bank looks at is if the business has enough income to repay the debt. Stating all of your income and revenues on your tax returns is essential. If the tax returns show the business took a loss then the bank will not give you a loan.

6. How can we contact you?
Courtney Barbito
Financial Center Manager
Buckhead Financial Center
3330 Piedmont Road
Atlanta, GA 30305
(404) 869-0199

You can find a location and business specialist near you at or (800)788-7000

Thanks for the great info Courtney. That point about the tax returns is especially helpful to our clients.

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