They alleged that, despite a resumé that reveals a 25-year stint in the cold-hearted banking business, Doug Fosbrooke actually treated people like humans.
They claimed that Fosbrooke is so far removed from your average everyday eye-on-the-computer, hand-on-the-mouse bank manager that he doesn't even have an email address on his business card.
These sources, some of whom are clients of Fosbrooke, said he was a throwback to the days when bank managers actually looked their clients in the eye. Well, we just had to investigate further.
We met with Doug Fosbrooke at his Calgary business, Fosbrooke & Associates Ltd., and, by the time the effects of the vice-grip handshake wore off, the gentlemanly ex-banker had us convinced that the allegations were all true.
|Doug Fosbrooke draws on decades in the banking business to help clients arrange financing, or to offer advice on other issues.|
Finally, he handed us a business card. No email address!
Fosbrooke's eyes lit up as he proudly reflected on his 24 years assisting small businesses, through Fosbrooke & Associates, in breaking the ice to secure financing in a lending environment that has become about as cosy as a skinny dip in a shark tank.
Fosbrooke proved to be a virtual encyclopedia of financing and the tricky business of securing loans. Complementing his forte in financing is a folksy personality that puts a visitor at ease. No wonder he detests the robotic style of modern-day big banks.
"My wife got me out of the bank, and I'm glad she did because of what's going on now," said Fosbrooke. "I would've been six feet under by now, because it's just become too impersonal. The banks are very much trying to dehumanize dealing with small businesses."
Fosbrooke's company prides itself in shooting straight from the hip as a consultant to small business that specializes in assisting companies with growth financing and restructuring.
"I was lucky because I had wonderful managers early in my career who took a shine to me and taught me the business," quipped Fosbrooke, whose banking career, primarily in business lending, included five years as manager of corporate banking with CIBC British Columbia. "Unfortunately, that has gone by the boards. Now, information for a loan is fed into a computer. The computer says no and whoever is handling the loan has no idea why it was turned down. They're not allowed to say the computer says so."
Fosbrooke draws on his wealth of knowledge and keen insights to provide a complete business financial advisory service. The company helps businesses obtain the best financial arrangements available in the marketplace and works to bring equity sources, government financing, leasing outlets and lenders together.
Fosbrooke has drawn on his experience to compile a Top 10 list for building better relationships with lenders that has appeared in numerous publications. He is so revered as an authority in his field that the media frequently seek out his opinions on banking issues.
Besides preparing applications for financing in the $250,000 to $500,000 range and then arranging same with lenders, Fosbrooke offers consulting services, including restructuring of companies.
Fosbrooke honed his skills at evaluating businesses while in the banking business, where he wrote 175 new corporate credits as a manager in Vancouver in a four-year span. That's more than some managers write in a lifetime. "When we get a call, we will go out and visit the company at their place of business, which is something the bankers don't have time to do anymore," explained Fosbrooke. "We'll spend the time so we understand what their business is and what their specialized needs are, both present and future.
"Usually, after two or three meetings, we'll have a pretty good handle on what we can do and we then lay out a proposal for them as to what we think we can arrange in financing. If they want to go ahead, they sign an agreement and we do the work in preparing a detailed financing proposal. And we won't sign an agreement unless we're better than 90 percent sure that we can arrange the financing."
Besides providing a personal touch to his business relationships, Fosbrooke thrives on removing obstacles that frustrate entrepreneurs seeking financing.
"The biggest advantage we give our clients is our ability to save them time and aggravation so the businesses can attend to their business. We only deal with about 15 lenders, and the people we deal with love to see our proposals - and therefore the proposals get top priority."
Fosbrooke's track record has drawn rave reviews from numerous clients. "Fosbrooke & Associates were quick to grasp what was needed for our company and negotiated everything on our behalf," says Scott Tannas, president and CEO of Western Financial Group.
Ken Stankievech, president of Canspec Group, says: "He made me think hard and ask questions of myself, and helped match me with a banker who worked along with my company as it grew."
Robyn Jackson, CEO of Robyn's Trucking Services Ltd, adds: "Knowing Doug Fosbrooke for the past 10 years, I have been rewarded with his experienced teachings and his expertise in the financial world. With his help, I have realized opportunities that, without him, I may never have had."
But don't take their word for it.
Call and arrange to have coffee with the ex-banker who doesn't act like a banker.
And find out what other small business owners are learning: That a date with a financial institution can indeed be a heck of a lot friendlier than a skinny dip in a tank full of sharks.
For more information on financing your business, call Doug Fosbrooke at 403.255.9191.