Which banks are satisfying the treasury needs of midsized and smaller businesses?

At a time in which effective treasury management is critical for all companies - but many banks are exhibiting a strong preference for serving large corporations to the exclusion of others - First Tennessee Bank is being honored for satisfying the treasury needs of small and midsized businesses.

Even more significantly, the honors are based on input from First Tennessee clients.

First Tennessee is both a national and regional winner in the Treasury Management/Overall Satisfaction category of the 2010 Greenwich Excellence Awards in Middle Market Banking, and earned the same distinction in the Small Business Banking version of Greenwich Associates' most recent annual awards program.

In fact, First Tennessee is one of only three South regional winners of the Treasury Management/Overall Satisfaction Excellence Award in the Middle Market Banking category.

"We focus our efforts on listening to the needs of our clients. They tell us that regular visits from their Relationship Manager or Treasury Specialist, quick resolution when problems arise, and excellent service at a fair price are the tenets of a great Treasury Management program," says Taylor Vaughan, Director of Treasury Management Services at First Tennessee. "We strive to deliver every day."

Multiple Excellence Awards

The Greenwich Excellence Awards in Middle Market Banking are based on over 10,000 telephone interviews with decision makers for bank relationships, including presidents, CEOs, CFOs, treasurers, and assistant treasurers, at companies with $10 million to $500 million in annual sales. The Greenwich Excellence Awards in Small Business Banking are based on more than 14,000 similar interviews with businesses having $1 million to $10 million in annual sales. Any bank that received citations from at least 30 companies was eligible to be honored.

First Tennessee received multiple Greenwich Excellence Awards based on responses from more than 100 of its clients in both the Middle Market Banking and Small Business Banking categories, according to Chris McDonnell, the Vice President and banking practice consultant at Greenwich Associates who runs the awards program. Greenwich Associates is a financial services consulting and research firm.

McDonnell says First Tennessee's 2010 Greenwich Excellence Awards in Treasury Management stand out for a couple reasons. The first is what he calls "the elevated importance" of treasury management in the current credit environment. "Banks are not lending to the extent they were in the past," McDonnell says. "As a result, companies have to make do with less, and streamlining and maximizing their allocation of finite resources is more important than ever."

Secondly, he says middle market and smaller businesses are more challenged today to find banks willing to lend to them and provide the high-quality treasury management services they need. "All banks today are being pressured to demonstrate that they are lending, but they want to do so while assuming the least risk possible," McDonnell says. "As a result, many banks are looking up market and under-serving middle market and small businesses."

McDonnell says the recent financial crisis strained the trust many companies have in the banking industry. Many banks are investing less on serving existing customers and "bank switching has been at record levels," he says. As a result, it is especially meaningful today when business financial managers cite a bank for its excellence in serving middle market and small businesses.

The people's choice

The Greenwich Excellence Awards carry extra weight, McDonnell says, because they are "purely a reflection of the client experience," as opposed to the opinion of industry observers. He suggests that companies can use these awards to identify banks both nationally and in their region that their peers believe offer excellent treasury management and other services.

"These days, banking providers that are well regarded by their clients are the exception, not the norm," McDonnell says.

In the Greenwich Associates Small Business Banking awards program, in the Treasury Management category, First Tennessee also was a national winner for Accuracy of Operations, Customer Service and Product Capabilities. Furthermore, the bank won national honors in the general categories of Overall Satisfaction, Relationship Manager Performance and Branch Satisfaction.

"These awards reflect our success in building strong relationships with our customers," says Chip Higgins, Line of Business Executive for First Tennessee Business Banking. "Our employees go the extra mile to understand our customers and their diverse financial needs, and this recognition from Greenwich Associates confirms our customers value the level of customer service we provide."

To learn more about how First Tennessee fared in the 2010 Greenwich Excellence Awards, or to provide additional feedback regarding your company's experience in working with First Tennessee, please contact your First Tennessee Treasury Management Sales Officer or Relationship Manager.

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