Vault Lines

CFOs want to alter their relationships with their banks – and are willing to alter who their bankers are in order to make that happen.


Two years ago this month we examined the relationship between CFOs and their bankers and found things mostly status quo, but with some early signs of fraying around the edges. In a survey of several hundred senior finance executives, exactly half said their relationship with their primary bank had undergone "no change" since the onset of the credit crisis. Only 3% said they had switched primary banks.

Today the situation is far different, better in some cases but more often worse. While 14% of the executives responding to our most recent survey describe their relationship with their bankers as "almost ideal" and another 40% rate it as "positive," the remainder offer grades ranging from "strictly transactional" to "abysmal." (See the full results of our survey of 650 finance executives in this story.)

More telling, by far, is that companies aren't simply frustrated by the relationship they have with their banks, but are prepared to do something about it. A substantial number are actively shopping around for new banks, if they haven't switched already. Others are taking a different tack, working hard to improve lines of communication, often with an eye toward improving lines of credit. Senior editor Vincent Ryan offers insight on both strategies, in "Take Control of Your Bankers."

Complicating the relationship, however, is the specter of financial reform. While the massive bill passed this summer is largely consumer-focused, a number of provisions will have, at the least, a trickle-down effect on companies in their role as bank clients. It's early days, to be sure, but change is coming, as contributing editor Randy Myers makes clear in "The Calm Before Reform."

Elsewhere we explore a far different relationship, that between CFOs and their compensation packages. The latest data poses an interesting glass-half-full/empty test, as you'll learn in "A Matter of Perception." (Hint: your relationship with your personal banker may be about to improve.)


Read next:

Finance At BeyondCore