For Andres Serra, meeting his clients in person is one of the best parts of the job—he likes to see where they work and learn more about their stories. His practice proved especially valuable with a recent attorney who had a credit need.
“The first thing I did was visit his office,” says Serra, a Miami-based BankUnited vice president and senior business banker. “When you meet and connect with someone, you know you’re helping not only a business, but also an individual—it’s so rewarding.”
Serra and the attorney hit it off immediately. They discovered that they both have a love of travel and a passion for motorcycles. In fact, the attorney had ridden his bike across North and Central America. “Within minutes, we were brothers,” Serra said. “I knew I wanted to help him in any way I could not just as a trusted advisor but also a friend.”
A family tragedy reverberates
The attorney was in a bind. He wanted to move his law practice out of a rundown office building he rented and buy an office condo. Time was of the essence, as his current landlord planned to raise the rent on the poorly managed property.
The attorney found a beautiful new space for his law firm, and the seller accepted his offer. In an unexpected turn of events, his previous bank declined his application for a commercial mortgage. That bank didn’t give the attorney a reason or even a callback as to why they wouldn’t provide him with a loan. The attorney was starting to lose hope.
Serra used his network to determine what happened with the attorney’s previous application, uncovering a story that made him double down on helping the attorney succeed. “Both of his parents passed in 2021,” Serra said. “It was unimaginably hard, and of course, his revenue took a huge hit that year as he traveled back and forth to help care for them.”
Without ever talking to the attorney, the original bank had looked at a spreadsheet of numbers, noticed the revenue dip, and declined his mortgage application. But after his parents had passed, the attorney returned to work, and his business recovered. “Fortunately, I was able to get his full story, verify the data, and convey to our underwriters what happened and that he was on a solid path for the future,” Serra says.
The story behind the application
Serra believed the new office would put the attorney’s business in an even better financial situation, providing the opportunity and room for him to work with more clients. Serra and the underwriters worked together to finalize the deal, and Serra vividly remembers the note the underwriter sent him during the process.
“The underwriter’s note said, ‘Please give my condolences to the family,’” Serra says. “I was blown away and proud to be working for my company.”
BankUnited approved the attorney’s commercial mortgage. He’s now remodeling his new office and plans to move in soon. He and Serra remain in contact, and Serra is looking forward to visiting once the space is complete. In the meantime, the business banker remains convinced that meeting clients in person and taking the time to understand their work and their stories is the best way to do business.
“If you’re patient and willing to put yourself in their shoes and understand where they’re coming from, you’ll be more successful, and they will too,” he says. “You’ll get to help more people, and that’s truly why we’re here.”
BankUnited business bankers strive to walk in their customers’ shoes daily. Connect with us if you have questions about how to help your business grow and succeed.
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