Choosing the Right Banking Partner

Choosing the Right Banking Partner

By Charissa Eller / Published April 2024

Photo by

In the fast-paced environment of community association management, few individuals take the necessary time to effectively plan their finances and develop a budget for the upcoming year. Failure to develop and maintain a comprehensive annual budget can lead to unforeseen consequences down the road. Getting caught flat-footed in an industry that demands such transparency and swift response times can jeopardize your relationships with homeowners. From routine maintenance and vendor coordination to the critical task of properly funding reserves, community associations have a fiduciary responsibility to protect their homeowners, and it all starts with a robust financial strategy.

Where (and When) Should You Start?

     When it comes to developing a financial strategy, it’s never too early to start thinking ahead. The industry norm finds most associations developing budgets by the end of the summer, but the sooner (and longer) you can plan, the better. However, proper budgeting, planning, and strategy take a lot of time and effort— luxuries that individuals at the helm of an association have little of to spare. This is where a great banking partner can step in as an invaluable extension of your team. Beyond the conventional role of lending, banks can provide important financial advice, contract counseling, references to professional resources, etc. to help your association reach its goals and stay on track.

Finding the Right Partner

     The foundation of any successful banking relationship starts with the right partner, but not every bank has the capabilities and expertise to support your community association’s financial goals. These are some of the key characteristics your association should look for in a financial partner:

     Availability—A common gripe in the association industry is that banks are often unresponsive or delayed in their communication. In light of this, our team at Cogent Bank has strengthened its commitment to hands-on, personalized banking. Community associations operate on quick turnarounds and short deadlines, and your banking partner should be able to match that sense of urgency. When identifying a bank for your association, make sure customer service is a priority.

     Expertise—You should consider looking for a bank that specializes in banking for associations. A healthy relationship with your bank should not stop at a loan or transaction; a true banking partnership can provide your association with a variety of resources, knowledge, and support. Cogent Bank, for instance, has a seasoned team of professionals dedicated to association banking. Each member, including myself, has seen it all in our more than 75 years of combined banking experience within the communities of Florida and beyond.

     Local Knowledge—A banking partner that understands the community you operate in adds substantial value to your association. These institutions are equipped with the local expertise necessary to provide accurate, informed financial strategies. Given their invaluable local insights, among several other reasons, community banks often make excellent banking partners for community associations. My time with Cogent Bank has shown just how impactful having a bank with deep roots in the community can be. Not only does local knowledge provide a better understanding of local rules, legislation, etc., but also it helps to develop an incredible regional network of professional resources that we can refer our clients to. Being a part of the communities we serve means we understand your unique needs and how to best support you and your association.

     Cogent Bank’s Association Banking vertical provides hands-on, personalized service to community associations across its statewide footprint in Florida, with banking centers in Fort Myers, Naples, Orlando, Winter Park, Orange City, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Jacksonville. With financing options including construction loans, term loans, emergency lines of credit, etc., Cogent Bank has a wide array of resources to service you. To learn more about the Cogent Bank and its range of services for associations, visit

Charissa Eller

Senior Vice President and Commercial Relationship Manager, Cogent Bank

     Throughout her nearly two-decade career in banking and finance, Charissa has garnered more than 15 years of experience working alongside clients in the association management industry. In her role, Charissa serves as an Association Banking expert for Cogent Bank’s Central Florida market, providing business development resources and exceptional client service to her portfolio of clients.