Picking the right bank to trust with your finances is a monumental decision. A good bank will provide dedicated, personalized services and help you get the most out of your money. Conversely, a poor or unsuitable bank may leave you feeling the pain of untenable loans or exorbitant hidden fees.
How do you choose which bank is right for you? Do your research. Here are five ways you can learn more about a bank before taking the plunge.
Business journals are a great resource for all your financial education. Journals typically cover a range of topics, from local banking news and trends to industry updates and entrepreneurial profiles. Delivered by industry experts, business journals also cover news regarding leadership changes, mergers, and acquisitions within the banking industry. If your bank has undergone any recent directorial changes or been involved with any regulatory issues, a business journal will let you know.
The Bank’s Official Website
An easy way to find out what your prospective new bank is all about is to head to their official website. Pay attention to the quality of the website and whether it is secure. Details like this can give you a clue as to how reputable the organization is and how seriously they take cyber security. Also navigate to the ‘About Us’ (or equivalent) to review the mission statement. This will give you a firm idea of principles that underpin the business. It should leave you feeling more confident about banking with the organization and illustrate the ways in which they can offer you value as a customer.
Make an Appointment
When you’re dealing with something as important as finances, sometimes words on a screen aren’t enough. If you’re not convinced by your bank’s online presence alone, make an appointment to meet with a customer management liaison or branch representative in your area. Employees at your local branch will be able to give you specialized advice about the products/services the bank offers and how they compare with their closest competitors. The warmth, timeliness and quality of the advice provided will also give you a sense of whether the organization meets your needs and expectations as a consumer.
Word of Mouth
While banking can be hugely personal, most people will have a few key values when it comes to selecting a bank. Most individuals are looking for transparency, security, and no unnecessary charges. When you’re looking for a new bank, speak to friends and colleagues about their experiences. Ask them if they would recommend their current bank and, if not, why not? Not only will this give you an idea of which banks to avoid, it will also help you solidify what you’re looking for in a financial institution.
Check Regulatory Websites
You need to be aligned with a bank that promotes transparency and has a clear commitment to meeting regulatory standards. Fortunately, regulatory and supervisory bodies (like the Federal Reserve) often maintain websites that can keep you well informed about any compliance issues, complaints filed or disciplinary actions that have been taken against your prospective bank.
The relationship you have with your bank is almost as important as the one you have with your partner or children. Because you’re entrusting your livelihood and financial security to this organization, it’s vital that you do extensive research before committing. By taking the above five steps, you can dramatically improve your chances of aligning yourself with a bank that will meet your financial needs for the next decade and beyond.