By Karen Brassfield, Executive Vice President & Chief Banking Officer, Silvergate Bank Karen Brassfield is Executive Vice President and Chief Banking Officer with Silvergate Bank, a San Diego community bank that specializes in serving the financial needs of small and growing businesses. The bank is headquartered in La Jolla at 4275 Executive Square, Suite 800. The company website is

San Diego is full of exciting, entrepreneurial small companies. Just read any issue of the San Diego Business Journal to see news on growing, private, San Diego businesses. Although a bank is often considered just a place to make deposits, house operating accounts, and perhaps get a loan, working with a bank that specializes in small business can play a key role in managing and helping to grow your business.

First, your time is valuable, so be sure to select a bank that is interested in knowing, understanding and supporting your business. Your banker should visit you in your office and take the time to understand your business plan. Your bank should operate as if it is a department of your company.

If you choose the right bank, the service should be great right from the start. Your banker should introduce you to the staff that will handle your banking relationship. The transition from your current bank to your chosen community bank should be a painless experience because your community banking team will handle all of the details for you. Your phone calls and emails should be returned today, not next week.

Second, your banker should be a trusted advisor and not just a deposit taker. Your banker should be able to offer you advice on various deposit products to meet your specific needs. Your banker should be able to explain options for your company about payments through the automated clearing house, wire transfers, automated bill payments, and remittance/lockbox banking. A community business banker might help you establish reports about your banking operations that are customized for your business needs. Your banker should help you resolve account issues such as returned deposited items. Your banker should be able to assist you with fraud control using services such as positive pay and deposit reviews designed to catch account activity that is unusual for your operation.

Third, your bank should be a networking resource. Need a new payroll company, commercial insurance company, real estate attorney or commercial real estate broker? Your banker should be able to introduce you to professionals who will meet your needs.

Fourth, your banker should be a lending resource and advisor. Perhaps you have funded your company with your own money and you want to plan for a business loan that will help your company grow. Maybe you have applied for a loan but were declined. A good community banker will work with you to understand your financial statements and your business plan. A qualified community business banker can help you establish a strategy to enable your business to qualify for a business loan. They will know about various loan programs that are available including SBA loans, accounts receivable loans, and others.

Finally, your community bank should be able to offer you the latest in cash management products including Business Online Banking, online wire transfers, account analysis, positive pay, remote deposit capture, report uploads and downloads to your accounting system, lockbox banking, and Automated Clearing House services. They also should be able to help you with merchant card services, offering several companies to choose from, business debit cards, cash services, and courier services.

With a business-driven community bank, you will be able to focus on doing what you do best knowing that you have the products, services and expertise your company needs to grow.