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Good business banks accounts and a full range of financial tools to help manage the operations of a business are vital factors in the success and growth of Delta companies large and small. In addition to their many offerings to individual account holders, Delta banks provide a wide variety of services designed specifically to meet business needs. Companies are demanding more from their banks, and financial institutions in the region are keeping pace with new technologies to offer virtually complete packages of efficient, convenient banking tools that can be tailored to meet each business’ individualized requirements. A look at a sampling of the Delta’s banks illustrates the breadth of sophisticated services available to business customers.

One of the new services available at M&F Bank is remote deposit service, reports Cleveland Branch President Clay McWilliams. This product allows the business owner to have a scanner at his location that will scan checks presented to the business. The scanner then transfers a file with all the information to the bank’s computer and the deposits are made. “This allows the customer to stay at his business location without making trips to the bank to make deposits concerning checks,” McWilliams explains.

Other M&F services for businesses include: business lines of credit, letters of credit, small business loans with SBA guaranty for start-up or businesses that are expanding, real estate loans, equipment loans, inventory and receivable financing, plus a wide spectrum of investment services and trust services.

“Trust services have become an important offering with estate plans, management succession plans, tax savings and other products to insure the continuation of a business or assisting in the transfer of ownership of a business,” McWilliams comments.

At Guaranty Bank in Belzoni, Huey Townsend reports, “We offer a full array of banking services for businesses. We have several checking accounts designed for large and small businesses, including a free business checking account, as well as several savings options and a full range of business loan products. In addition, we offer cash management services, electronic statements, business online banking, ACH services, corporate credit cards, and many other services.”

Guaranty Bank is also in the process of introducing a merchant remote capture service that will allow businesses to make their deposits from their own offices rather than having to drive to the bank, Townsend adds.

Danny Whalen at Cleveland State Bank cites cash management services as one of their top products for business customers. “This offers a lot of opportunities for small businesses which have a need to handle things such as direct deposit payroll, as well as for entities such as clubs with membership dues who have regular monthly draft needs. In addition to really good software for electronic services, we have an electronic banking officer on staff to work with these customers. Such services are a real convenience for both the bank and the customer.”

At Delta Southern Bank, which has branches throughout the north Delta, Dale DeLoach comments, “We are continually working to make our business banking more convenient under the motto, Less time in line, and more time on your business. We offer financial services that will save business owners and their employees time, streamline corporate accounting, payment and collections systems, and provide increased privacy in a secure environment. One example of this is our payroll direct deposit service, which allows business owners to set up direct deposits for each of their employees through Delta Southern Bank.”

As part of its cash management services, Delta Southern has recently added two “sweep account” options for business clients, DeLoach reports. The repo sweep account allows the customer to set up an automated sweep that will transfer excess funds into an account to purchase securities, through their agreement with the bank, and sweep funds back into the operating account when needed.

The credit line sweep account links a business line of credit to its business account, which allows the business owner to transfer money as needed into the account when the balance drops below a certain target level. It also allows them to transfer money out of the account when it exceeds a predetermined amount to pay down the principle balance on the line of credit, reducing the interest expense.

Delta Southern also offers a service called positive pay to its commercial customers to help control check fraud. The bank matches all checks being presented for payment against the issuance data provided by the customer. The bank makes this possible by assisting customers in transmitting a checks issued data file via Internet banking. Any checks that become an exception are sent electronically to the customer who then decides to “Payor Not Pay” the item.

Like other Delta bankers, Townsend says the wide range of available business banking services can have a real and positive impact. “I wish our customers would take greater advantage of our many cash management services and other services, like statements on CD and electronic statements,” he comments.

“Cash management services, Internet banking and lines of credit can be really beneficial. One important thing to a business is to know what their cash balances are and how to manage them best. We have products that allow online monitoring of the accounts and provide the ability to move money to other accounts and to earn the most possible on the funds they have,” Townsend says. “All of our business products are designed to meet the needs of the business and help them to manage their banking relationships more quickly and effectively so that they can concentrate on running their businesses better. Our services are based on ease and convenience; for example, we have recently extended our business day from the artificial 2 p.m. cut-off until closing time. This eliminates the need for our customers to rush to the bank before 2 p.m. in order to get credit for their transaction in that business day.”

Says Whalen, “Lending is the obvious service offered to businesses, and we feel this is still a business about people and trust. Online banking usage is growing, but I would like to see it grow even more. The younger generation expects and enjoys online services such as bill pay, and I’d like to see more of our customers take advantage of this, because it’s so convenient.”

At Planters Bank and Trust in Indianola, Weldon Aultman concurs that Internet banking is an ever more important component of the bank’s complete range of business banking services.

“I’m seeing a lot more Internet banking; the customer can do so much on their own at any time of day. They can get immediate access to what’s going on with their business, and they aren’t restricted to the bank’s business hours.