East Bay Small Business Banking?
July 22, 2013 7:39 AM   Subscribe

Any recommendations for small business banking in the East Bay? With one small exception my needs are pretty basic.

I'm starting a small consulting shop and need a reliable bank for small business checking, (possibly) savings and other basics. This is not a cashflow or inventory-related business, so I am not looking for financing or to borrow money, nor is that a likely concern in the future. I'm sure that there are numerous options that would offer the bare minimum I'm looking for, but I'm hoping to hear some personal experiences because I'm concerned about hidden fees, bad customer service, and that I will generally end up with a business banking relationship as shitty as hostile as my personal banking relationships always are.

Here's that tiny snowflake: One part of what I do involves making very large purchases for clients. They wire me the funds first, and then I make the buy. Do banks vary in how quickly they'll let a large wire ($100k+) post and then be spent? I am torn between thinking I would want a smaller bank that could give me more attention and that I would want a larger bank that has more resources and more business customers.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly to Work & Money (3 answers total)
See if you can find a credit union that you can join. I have found that they are the best as far as service and fees goes. I just wired 20K and it was available the same day.
posted by Ferrari328 at 7:51 AM on July 22, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, Ferrari328. My question for credit unions is the same: can anyone recommend one that works well for small businesses.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:05 AM on July 22, 2013

Hi there,

I know I'm late to this but if you're still watching:

I've recently explored options for small non-profits. The consensus among non-profit finance folks in the bay area seems to be that we'd all rather work with smaller community-minded banks, but for some organizations the larger banks are the only ones that really provide the services needed. If you look around enough, though, you can probably find some bank that meets your needs.

If you are okay with corporate banks but want something smaller, First Republic is top-notch in terms of customer service, and my guess is that they'd be well equipped to handle larger transactions, given that they focus on high net worth individuals. But they're still corporate.

You asked about credit union. I've recently started doing some of my personal banking with Patelco. They're very nice, but not as automated as I'd come to expect from a larger bank. One example: I couldn't schedule an auto-pay of my Patelco credit card from my Patelco checking account, but when I called they could set that up internally. (I sorta wonder if this involves someone going in and manually scheduling it each month, but that's not visible to me.) Another example: it turns out the checks I deposit via mobile are not visible via online banking, they're only visible from my phone. If my phone is not available or has been replaced, they charge $2 to send me a copy of the check if I don't keep good enough records that I've forgotten whom a deposit is from. It's weird to me that I can't get that image online, but that's where their system is at. So with a smaller bank, you should be ready for not as many bells and whistles as with a big bank.

In some ways, smaller banks are more willing to think outside the box. A small non-profit was unable to qualify for a credit card that wasn't personally guaranteed by the executive director. The big banks gave us no other options. But Community Bank of the Bay is able to set up a CD as an asset to back up the credit card. The credit card account will still function as a regular credit card, for whatever amount is in the CD. Since we need a place to park some modest savings, and since we intend to pay off our credit card in full each month, this is a fine solution. And the big banks couldn't help us with it because it was too out-of-the-box.

So I hope this experience gives you some ideas. Community Bank of the Bay might be a good starting place. Or, you might try New Resources Bank -- some non-profit finance professionals have spoken highly of them. And Mechanic's Bank seems to be another common option.

Hope this helps. Good luck!
posted by quinoa at 10:28 PM on July 28, 2013

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