When dealing with an SBA loan workout, as in life, there is a chance that you might come across one or more individuals who have completely abandoned that whole thing about treating others as you’d like to be treated (I’m sure their mothers would NOT approve!). On more than one occasion, I’ve been engaged to deal with cranky bankers who seem bent on giving my client a hard time. Based on my time as a banker, and my time as a consultant, I’ve accumulated a few theories about why some bankers just can’t seem to play nice in the sandbox. Here are the most common:
1) The borrower did something to make them mad.
In some cases, the borrower did something they were not supposed to do, either by accident or on purpose. Did you sell your business assets without telling the bank? Did you repeatedly break promises to send payments or paperwork? Did you go on the offensive and put them in a position to have to bare their teeth? Did you whine about how banks got bailouts and you are being treated like dirt?
No matter what you did, if you did something to make them mad, it’s quite possible that they took it personally (most will, although they’ll never admit to it) and are emotionally invested in your file (in a bad way). Once they are against you, it only makes the fight that much harder. They’ll scrutinize your information, probing for a reason to reject your offer.
The lesson here, of course, is try not to make your banker mad. Debt Settlement 101 calls for you to be polite and cooperative, so as to avoid the dreaded Cranky Banker.
2) They are new at their job.
At some point in our lives, we have all been “the new guy” (or gal). I always hated being the new guy because it meant that I’d often be asked questions by borrowers that I didn’t know the answer to but was supposed to. What is a reasonable settlement offer? Do I have to pay interest on the settlement? How long of a period can I make payments over?
I never had an ego that prevented me from saying “I’m not sure. I’ll check and get back to you.” Unfortunately, not everyone is like that. Some bankers do have egos, an rather than admit that they are not sure about their own institutions philosophies and regulations, they’ll try to cover the fact that they are as clueless as you are by stonewalling you. They won’t respond to emails or voicemails, and when you can get them on the phone, they are evasive and leave you feeling frustrated because you are getting no direction or feedback about the settlement or modification process that you are attempting to navigate.
3) They are incompetent.
A close cousin to the “new guy” is the incompetent guy. I find the incompetent guy the hardest to deal with because unlike the new guy, the incompetent guy will never learn and will ruin lives until management has the good sense to fire him. Incompetent guy is hard to deal with because he is not knowledgeable, unresponsive and uncooperative. I worked with a guy like this, and got to hear about how poorly he treated people after he was fired and I took over his accounts. He wasn’t a mean spirited person, he just honestly was overwhelmed by the job, and on certain days he would take it out on his customers who were just trying to get their situation rectified.
4) They got picked on as a child.
This person is just mean in general, and it’s their mission to spread their misery to as many folks as possible. They almost get joy out of tormenting you. They love to threaten to take your home, shut your business down, and sue you despite the fact that you are dealing in good faith. I used to have to foreclose on people, but there is a tactful way to explain the bank’s position without demeaning or threatening a person. Some bankers enjoy being in a position of power, and will use their power to make your life unnecessarily uncomfortable.
For the record, I have worked with many more nice bankers than mean bankers, and I’m thankful for that. Most bankers I deal with are knowledgeable and responsive, and understand that my clients are not bad people, but rather they are just caught in a difficult financial situation. But I have to say, I always cringe when I realize that I’m dealing with the dreaded Cranky Banker.