With tighter margins, this year farmers and their lenders will need to stay better connected. New technology is helping them, but some tried and true techniques are still being used. There is a new generation of farm operators today and a new generation of ag bankers working with them. These include people like Indiana banker Denise Watson, “I am working with my customers on the phone, via text, e-mail, and a variety of ways.”
Watson said this technology not only lets her better connect with her customers, it also lets her provide better service, “I can, while talking to a farmer, pull up his information and have my analysis right in from of me. It even lets me see what changes have been made in his operation. I can get him an answer in a matter of minutes or a few hours.” But, while technology lets bankers and farmers connect like never before, she said nothing can replace that face to face relationship, “Nothing can replace that on farm visit or face to face conversation.”
Iowa banker Caleb Hopkins says, despite the technology, it still comes down to relationships, “It is what keeps them coming back to your bank vs. the other banks down the road. You have to go to them and sit down at their table and really get into their operation.”
Many farmers are finding themselves working with a new generation of bankers. According to the American Ag Bankers Association, 95% of the bankers who were working in the 1980s will be retiring within the next 5 years. Many of the younger bankers have never seen a farm recession, and that will require even greater communications between farmer and lender.