Relationship banking — Advice from an ex-banker | Data Driven Investor

Cynthia Wylie
6 min readDec 17, 2020

In challenging business times, your bank literally has the life of your business in its hands.

I used to be a bank executive. Ever since then I have always maintained solid relationships with my banks, the ones I use today. Many people seem to underestimate the importance of the relationships with banks and bankers. I’m here to tell you why that can come back to haunt you. In challenging business times, your bank literally has the life of your business in its hands. You want to have relationship capital to leverage during those times.

My first exposure to a banker or bank officer was the appropriately named, Mr. Banks. You know, Mr. Banks from Walt Disney’s 1964 movie, “Mary Poppins.” Mr. Banks worked at the Dawes Tomes Mousley Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank in London. When I read that name even today, I subconsciously sing the song, “Fidelity Fiduciary Bank” composed by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. Mr. Banks wanted his children, Jane and Michael to invest their money in the bank but they wanted to feed the birds which led to a whole chaotic breakdown that caused a run on the bank and Mr. Banks to lose his job. I loved that movie. It was the first movie I ever saw in a real theater in the city. It took my mother and me an hour to drive there. I remember thinking that it was my least favorite part of the movie and how tedious and uptight and rigid bankers were.

Fast forward about twenty years. I had finished my doctoral coursework in economics at Georgetown and started work on my dissertation. I had a two-year contract with the World Bank and… my fiancé wanted to move to Los Angeles to go into the movie business. What? I didn’t want to go. The movie business?! He set up an interview through a friend with First Interstate Bank, then the seventh-largest bank in the country. They were starting an investment banking division and I interviewed with the President of the new division called, First Interstate, Ltd. I didn’t even know how to read a balance sheet. But I could calculate complex mathematical problems like there was no tomorrow. There was a heat wave in L.A. and I didn’t really want the job so instead of wearing a suit, I wore a skimpy white linen dress. He was impressed with my bonafides and asked me what I was making at the World Bank. I…

Cynthia Wylie

Founder of Bloomers Island. Published children’s book author at PRH. Writes about big kid’s stuff like economics & business, too.