An Interview with Excelsior Growth Fund’s Banker of the Year
Partnerships are so important to our work at Excelsior Growth Fund. It’s with the support of our valued network of bank partners that we’re able to strengthen communities by helping small business owners access financing that meets their needs and supports their goals.
In celebration of these partnerships, we launched our “Banker of the Year” award last year to recognize the outstanding commitment of the banking community in supporting our mission. This year we’re honored to recognize Kellyanne Truesdale, Vice President and Business Banking Officer at NBT Bank, with this award. Over the past few years, Kellyanne has consistently gone the extra mile by referring numerous small business customers to EGF for financing when they do not qualify with NBT Bank. In the last year alone, Kellyanne’s referrals have resulted in three of her customers receiving more than $195,000 in alternative financing through EGF.
We sat down with Kellyanne to learn more about what she finds most rewarding about working with small business clients at NBT Bank and why she refers to EGF.
How did you get involved in small business banking?
My mother owned her own business and one of my first “jobs” as a child was filling out deposit tickets and counting money. As I got older, I learned how to use accounting software and balance accounts. I watched my mother work hard to grow her business from a start-up to a successful and thriving business. Through this, I recognized how much pride she had for what she created, and I knew I wanted to do something to help businesses like hers succeed.
What do you find most rewarding about working with small businesses?
I have great respect for small business owners because they have the courage and passion to start and grow businesses that help to improve lives and create vibrant communities. But I understand that many businesses have limited resources, so I do my best to make banking more relevant, accessible and effective for them. In addition to providing financial insights and advice, I help my clients better identify potential financial and community resources. I am proud to play a critical role in economic development and job creation in Greater Binghamton, and I am also proud to serve as a champion for small businesses and start-ups who are seeking the opportunities to finance and grow enterprises that would not otherwise have the necessary capital or resources.
What’s a specific moment in working with small businesses that you are proud of?
This year one of my clients was recognized during National Small Business Week at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 21st Annual Small Business Excellence Awards luncheon. I started working with the business in 2007 when it was a one-man operation based out of the customer’s garage. Today, the company operates from a multi-million-dollar facility and employs over 125 people! This family business is proof the American dream is alive and well, and I am proud to have played a part in their journey.
What’s in your toolkit when a customer doesn’t qualify for financing products with NBT Bank?
I try to fit as many resources in my toolkit as possible. I’m always interested in options that offer creativity in commercial financing and thoughtful financial solutions that can help my small business customers to thrive.
Why do you choose to refer customers to Excelsior Growth Fund?
EGF has allowed me to expand my product offerings to meet the needs of smaller businesses who may not qualify for traditional funding sources. I’ve referred customers to EGF when they didn’t quite fit our bank’s lending criteria or if the loan’s purpose wasn’t a good fit for us. And I’ve been very pleased to find that EGF is responsive and provides a fast turnaround for my clients.
How has partnering with EGF benefited NBT Bank or your relationship with your clients?
Every client I have referred to EGF has been pleased with the process, and I’ve been able to maintain my established deposit and lending relationships. EGF keeps both the customer and the referring lender up to date on the status of the application. And, EGF’s business advisory services team works with my clients over time to help them improve their business and financial situation with the goal of returning them to a place where bank financing is an option.
What advice do you have for other bankers looking to get involved with CDFIs like Excelsior Growth Fund?
My advice is simple: DO IT! I find that it’s a great way to say “no” and still stay “yes” to customers that don’t qualify for traditional bank financing. EGF’s online application process is fast and simple, and I get to keep the door open with my small business customers. So, it’s a win-win for my clients and the bank.
Inspired by Kellyanne’s story? You can learn more about how partnering with EGF works here.