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Business Strategy

How to Optimize Your Commercial Services Portfolio

Sonya Knudtson
May 13, 2021

When it comes to optimizing your bank’s commercial services portfolio, where do you even begin?

Imagine this scenario – you are the Treasury Officer at your local community bank attending the weekly management meeting.  Some open conversation about the existing commercial market space starts to take shape and the questions start coming your way.

‘How hard is it to attract new commercial customers?’ ‘What are some of the challenges to providing the correct offerings to our existing commercial customer base?’ ‘How can our products help us attract and close new deals?’ And, since this is a management meeting, let’s not forget the ever-popular question, ‘How can we increase our non-interest fee income?’ 

Your bank executives look directly at you, the Treasury Officer since you’re the person responsible for maintaining your bank’s existing treasury portfolio. Wait…what? You didn’t realize you were on the agenda to report the numbers of your portfolio for last month. Cue the scramble for answers.

Immediately your mind goes towards the value that your commercial treasury customers bring to the bank. Is this information easy to gather and present to your executives?  Where should this conversation have started?  What are the areas of commercial business that you already know? What areas should you know? 

Have any of these questions crossed your mind when discussing the role of treasury management within your bank? Have any been asked of you by your management team?  I’m here to tell you that the answers to these questions are necessary to optimize your commercial services portfolio.

What Does Optimizing Your Commercial Services Portfolio Mean?

From a treasury sales professional’s perspective, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what optimizing your commercial services portfolio means. When we think of optimizing, the words ‘maximize’ and ‘fully leverage’ come to mind.  When we talk about financial products and services, we typically refer to a variety of services that our commercial customers need in order to operate and grow their businesses. These can include services such as the ability to transfer funds from one account to another, send and receive multiple ACH files, initiate payroll files, submit wires, mitigate payment fraud with positive pay, offer merchant services, and more. 

No matter the size or segment of the business, the Treasury Officer should be leading the charge to perfect the bank’s existing offerings in an effort to deepen customer relationships – which ultimately leads to customer retention. Also needed is a strategy to attract new business.

Building a Sound Strategy

The main goal of treasury management, also called cash management or commercial services, is to ‘effectively and efficiently manage an organization’s cash and related financial assets to support the achievement of the organization's business objectives and strategy according to the Association of Financial Professionals. Having a clearly defined treasury management portfolio of services will help you show your customers how your bank supports that definition provided by the AFP.

With so many questions, you might be wondering where to begin. It all starts with building a sound strategy and involving the right stakeholders at your bank. You should be leading conversations to identify where you are today with your commercial services and treasury management line of business, in order to identify where you want to be and build the roadmap to get there. 

Key areas to focus on include, but aren’t limited to:

  • The overall strategic direction of your bank.
  • Understanding technology needs.
  • Analysis, reporting, and training.

You also need to maintain and deepen existing relationships, and acquire new customers, and service accounts when customers are in a time of need.  It can all be a little overwhelming.  A simplistic approach is to define what a commercial portfolio encompasses and represents to the overall success of your bank.

Kicking Off the Conversation

Outlined are a few topics for you to consider as you lead the conversations and ultimately build a plan to fully optimize your portfolio:

  • Strategic direction of your Bank’s executive team
    - Expectations of treasury team, business acquisition and pricing strategies.
  • Technology used to access products and services
    - State-of-the-art digital channel access for commercial customers.
  • Detail of products and services offered in the commercial space.
    - Complete listing of products, services, and current pricing.
  • Review and reporting of customer relationships
    - Strengthen the business relationship with your customers while analyzing and reviewing commercial offerings.
    - Identify and fill product gaps.
  • Department communication and collaboration
    - Front line staff listening for opportunities.
    - Business relationships and Lenders including Treasury in commercial conversations.
  • Customer Experience
    - Education and training are necessary for staff to talk, and have conversations with current and prospective customers.
    - Education and training for Bank customers; display ease of the system, including features and functionality.

Utilize the suggested talking points to begin the process and start the conversations that need to happen. These talking points will lead you down the path to solidifying business relationships, winning new business, and increasing non-interest fee income (those exact questions that executive management asked of you in the meeting). No need to worry about scrambling for those answers ever again.

JHA Client Services Consulting℠  offers consulting engagements to supplement the Bank’s Treasury Management program with focus on optimizing the commercial services portfolio.  For more information on consulting services, please contact us at

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