For over 25 years, Mike Spiess has been working to help Vancouver-area manufacturing companies find the best banking solutions for their growth and expense needs. Currently, he’s the AVP and Manager of Commercial Relationships with Canadian Western Bank’s Langley branch, and works with numerous manufacturing organizations across all industries for their lending and cash management needs. What he’s found in his experience is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to helping clients in this industry. Having his boots on the ground to understand every aspect of his clients’ businesses is key to finding the best financial path for them to take.
“We can sit and read financial statements all day, but that’s not going to show us what’s really going on with their business,” says Mike.
He explains that when a new manufacturing company contacts them looking for help, he assembles a team of advisors to visit the warehouses and see the work in action to fully grasp how the business operates. “A lot of time when we get contacted, these companies might not know what they need or all that’s available to them. When we’re on location and seeing what they manufacture and how they operate it helps us understand the whole business.”
With a range of challenges and changes coming through the manufacturing industry, Mike and the rest of his CWB Langley team of advisors know that cash management products can help these companies immensely. But, CWB goes far beyond products as its full-service banking approach enables Mike and his team to better assist these businesses in meeting their growth and development targets.
Finding better benefits
In addition to the products offered to businesses, how those businesses want to invest their money is given far more range with CWB. Mike elaborates on how when businesses open investment options with the Cash Management team, they can invest in different currencies, such as US dollars. This makes moving money across borders a lot simpler for business and can avoid unnecessary foreign exchange conversions.
“It wasn’t that long ago depositing a cheque meant a trip to the branch, now with Remote Deposit Capture the business owner or finance controller can make the same deposit without having to leave their desk,” says Mike. He points out that many of his clients are switching their account activity to online as opposed to in-person banking. In addition to the paid staff time saved when banking online, the payments to employees and suppliers can move a lot more quickly.
“Suppliers sometimes offer a two per cent discount when you pay within the first couple of weeks. If our clients are still mailing cheques, they can’t take advantage of the convenience of instant payments,” says Mike. “Time is a business owner’s most scarce resource. We want to make sure that money can move through their accounts and land where it needs to be as quickly as possible, while also making sure that they’re receiving a good deposit rate.”
Knowing where the best value is
Thinking about the biggest challenges currently facing the industry, Mike points to staff retention as one of the most pressing for manufacturers. He sees that many of the entry level staff are willing to change jobs for a dollar or two increase in hourly pay. He explains that the Cash Management team is able to offer creative ways to add value to the company and its employees.
“I remember with one company, we were able to offer them a group RRSP plan for their staff. [This] was a benefit they weren’t able to offer before and it greatly improved employee retention rates,” says Mike, who points out the collaborative efforts between CWB teams helps find solutions that never would have been explored otherwise. “We want to make the lives of business owners easier. They should be focussing on their business and not worried about their banking. Whenever a new product is introduced, we’re always asking ourselves which of our current clients would this benefit the most. Building tailored and custom packages should make life easier for our clients while saving them money.”
Nimble, full-service banking
CWB’s holistic approach to helping businesses find the best solutions for their banking needs is what Mike thinks separates his team from the competition. Making the extra proactive banking effort for his clients — from making sure they know that they’re not just a number to working on creative cash management packages — is how CWB continues to lead as a bank obsessed with its clients’ success.
“When we look at the whole business, we can see where we can help our clients in ways they might never have thought of,” says Mike.
“A client might come in looking for a working capital loan, but when we evaluate their business we can see that maybe they would benefit better from a line of credit. We can be more nimble with our clients because we have fewer clients per relationship manager than most other banks. And that allows us to offer better customer service.”