With over 25 years of experience in business banking, Jung Sookie Kim has helped numerous business owners access the capital they need to grow. As a business specialist at Flushing Bank, Sookie works closely with her customers to create loan packages that are designed to meet their specific business and financing needs. When her clients don’t qualify for traditional financing through Flushing Bank, Sookie goes above and beyond and refers them to an alternative lender who can help them reach their business goals.
Through her hard work at Flushing Bank and her partnership with reliable alternative lenders, like Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF), Sookie has developed strong and trusting relationships with her clients, and kept the door open with them for future financing.
We spoke with Sookie to learn more about what she finds most rewarding about working with business owners, why she enjoys working at Flushing Bank, and why she refers her clients to EGF.
What is your role at Flushing Bank?
I am a Business Specialist at Flushing Bank. My role is to interact with new and existing business customers and provide recommendations for the products and services that are best suited for their specific business. If a customer is looking for a loan, I provide them with the financing options that meet their needs. At Flushing Bank, we have the flexibility to offer our own loan products to the more established businesses or if they are a less tenured business we can refer them to one of our partners, such as Excelsior Growth Fund, for alternative financing programs.
How did you get into banking?
I have been in banking for over 25 years and it has become my passion to work with and support clients. I got involved with Flushing Bank because I live in Flushing and was looking for a job opportunity that was close to home. Flushing Bank is well known in the community so I decided to apply for a position that I found on their website.
What do you like most about working at Flushing Bank?
I really like that Flushing is a local community bank. I have developed strong relationships with my co-workers and with the community. Previously, I worked at a much larger bank and it was difficult to get to know all the staff at the bank. If I needed to contact someone in a different department it felt like I was contacting a stranger. At Flushing Bank, our size and community-based approach allows us to get know our colleagues and creates a great sense of teamwork.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
I really enjoy working with people and developing relationships with my customers and members of the business community. It makes me proud when I can provide a solution to a customer that improves their overall banking experience and impression of Flushing Bank.
Why do you choose to refer customers to Excelsior Growth Fund?
One of the best things about working at Flushing Bank is that we have options to offer customers who don’t qualify for a traditional business loan. If one of my business customers does not qualify for a loan through Flushing Bank and they’re looking for a loan amount under $100,000 I refer them to Excelsior Growth Fund.
I have always had a very positive experience working with Excelsior Growth Fund. The process is quick and the turnaround time is excellent. If one of my customers needs immediate or fast financing I refer them to EGF because they usually receive approval in less than a week. EGF is very responsive and my customers have been very satisfied with EGF’s services.
How has partnering with EGF benefited Flushing Bank or your relationship with your clients?
The partnership with EGF has resulted in stronger relationships with my business customers. They appreciate being presented with financing options that meet their needs and it enhances the trust that is so important in an ongoing business relationship.
Additionally, I have found that many of my business customers’ CPAs appreciate that I help their clients get the financing they need. In turn, these CPAs have also started to refer some of their other clients to me.
What advice do you have for other bankers looking to get involved with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) like Excelsior Growth Fund?
I would recommend that other bankers partner with CDFIs to provide financing options that are not readily available to small business owners in their local community. To optimize the approval rate, it’s important to carefully review the business to ensure that they are a good match to the program requirements. Overall, partnering with a CDFI like EGF can help allow banks to better serve their communities.
Inspired by Sookie’s story? You can learn more about how partnering with EGF works here.