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Our approach to small business

Alison Swan, Senior Small Business Advisor, North Grey Bruce
Alison is a Senior Small Business Advisor that works with small business Members and prospective Members. She assists with day-to-day operations including accounts, credit cards and lines of credit. She also partners with the branches to provide support and expertise for mortgages and investments.

Our approach to small business
I worked for a traditional financial institution in small business for 13 years before coming to Meridian. I have been at Meridian now for five years. The environment that I came from was very institutional and rigid, including our approach to community. At Meridian, it is part of our culture to be involved in the community. We keep a pulse on chamber events, business enterprise centres and women’s groups. We maintain a visible presence and are proud to put our name behind that.
We also have truly amazing front line staff. They answer their phones. They are available to chat. You can always put a face to the name. For example, we had a Member from another financial institution, who had been there for years, come to Meridian as a result of that accessibility. He had a mortgage that was coming due, and didn’t hear from a representative from his former financial institution until a week before the expiry date. He called Meridian. And our branch manager picked up the phone and was dedicated to making his experience as positive as possible.
Ensuring our Members feel heard
We work for every Member in the same way, regardless of size or scope. Recently, we had a Member who was a student attending chiropractic college in Chicago. We had been providing a student line of credit for years. When she was done school and working a co-op position, there some confusion around extending the line of credit. Our Director of Small Business got involved directly. He found a workable solution with the credit department, and stayed in contact with the Member and her family throughout the entire process. It turned a potentially negative experience into a positive one. We listened to what the Member needed and did whatever necessary to try to deliver on those requirements. We easily could have shrugged our shoulders, looked at the loan amount and turned out backs. But we didn’t. All the right people, in the right places were involved in finding a resolution, and they were happy to do so.  

Helping small businesses overcome their challenges
Our Members’ passion for what they do genuinely excites me. I want to provide the financing expertise that helps them grow. We work for our Members rather than shareholders. Our focus isn’t solely on the bottom line. We want to be the team behind a Member’s success.  

Delivering value
We have the right people in place. We have a great product selection. And we proudly and willingly support the communities where we operate. We don’t need head office’s “permission” to participate in community activities. That’s sanctioned in our culture and value system here.  

For example, there is a brew pub opening up in town. The Member is new to the city. The municipality is involved, and everyone in the community is really excited about it. We provided the financing to this Member and have been there for ongoing support. He is so proud of his partnership with Meridian that he wants to put our sign in the window at his establishment.

The last word
Meridian is present. It’s not just a promise. It’s how we operate. We exist to help our small business Members get where they want to be. At the end of the day, it’s always about how we can help and move Members closer to their business and personal goals.