Small business checking: four essential tips

By Christopher Guenette
A business checking account is an integral part of operations and financial management for any company, and can offer a variety of tools and benefits, depending on the financial institution you choose and the type of account that you decide to open. Here are four helpful tips to ensure that your new business account and the relationship that follows will be a positive experience, now and for years to come.

  1. Reap the rewards – As a business owner you represent an important customer group for credit unions and banks. Business owners routinely influence and direct others, including employees, family members, vendors, and other business owners, with regard to choosing ­financial products and services. This influence can be direct or indirect, and has caused many credit unions and banks to design special products and services to aid in the acquisition and retention of your account. Be certain to ask a prospective credit union or bank to explain the special features or benefits they offer business owners. Extra perks on your personal accounts, personalized/priority service, rewards for your employees, and incentives for friends and family to join are just a few worth discussing.
  2. Expect an expert – Business owners require a higher level of expertise, by nature their products and services are more complex. Business-savvy credit unions and banks hire and retain employees who are adept at dealing with specific business banking situations and business accounts. Often, many of these individuals will travel to your business to get a feel for what they can do to help grow your business, recommend specific products and services proactively and without prodding, and provide consistent and personalized follow-up. A good metric to judge the expertise of a business banker is to assess how many questions they ask – if your prospective banker is asking more questions of you than you are of them, you are on the right track.
  3. To fee or not to fee – Many business owners are concerned with only monthly fees on their business accounts, and these are certainly important. Currently most credit unions and banks offer some sort of free business checking, however, not all accounts are created equal. Fees for items such as cashing employee checks, depositing cash, minimum balances, requirements to waive monthly fee (debit card purchases, etc.), online bill pay, and countless others can and will add up to become very costly. When selecting a credit union or bank, make it a point to ask for and understand their full fee schedule. The last thing you want is for your best employee to feel negatively impacted by a $6 bank fee (because of your banking choice) every time they cash a check.
  4. Enjoy being a part of the web – In order to make your life easier, almost all credit unions and banks have partners for several different convenience products and services. These partners include, but are not limited to, ways to accept credit cards, gift cards, solutions for payroll, employee account programs, mobile banking, online banking, direct connection to QuickBooks or Quicken, recommendations for other business professionals (CPAs, Lawyers, etc.), recommendations to other local businesses, employees that will promote your business to others, and many more. Often these services are discounted or even free, and many times the abilities of the ­financial institution to operate within a web of partners, products, and services is a major factor in obtaining an enjoyable banking relationship.

Christopher Guenette is Vice President, Retail Banking, at First Citizens’ Federal Credit Union. He can be reached at