Does Your Bank Measure Up?
"Banks are money shops."
This is a snippet of wisdom once imparted to me by a friend.
He was spot on, of course.
How do banks work?
When we deposit money with banks, we are not just paying fees for them to keep or manage our accounts.
The cash deposited into our current or savings accounts is capital that banks lend out to others, in return for interest.
This is how banks make their money.
Are you getting your money's worth?
Just like high street shops or restaurant, banks have differing customer service policies and each bank offers different services, financial products and client perks.
In a recent study, when polled on what they valued most in their bank, 82% of the people felt that friendly service was the key factor, when it came to choosing a bank.
The quality of advice and the solidity of the bank's resources came second and third.
In a way this may seem curious, considering that banks are there to serve us. One might assume that a dependable bank with knowledgeable staff would rank as the number one customer concern.
These opinions reflect, however, the stress many people feel when they conduct their banking.
How to evaluate a bank?
With so many banks vying for new custom, now is a good time to move your money if you locate a better deal.
Many banks now offer no-fee bank accounts, low cost transfers, small exchange commissions and even 1-2% cash back on household bills direct debited from your account.
The following quiz will help you to work out if you bank is doing the best job for you and your money:
How satisfying is your bank's service?view quiz statistics
What about comparing banks against each other?
To research your options, visit other banks and tell them that you are considering moving.
Get them to sell themselves.
- Be wary of banks who try to attract you with gifts if you move your account, mortgage or pension plan to them. A promise of of a cash back voucher, a plasma TV or a new dining set might be genuinely attractive, but it could also just be covering some lack in their services.
- Use the quiz questions in the above section to interview a potential bank. See the questions in the table below - copy this list and take it with you. Make sure you jot down your answers for your current bank, to be able to compare.
CONCLUSION: What did you find out?
If your bank is working reasonably well for you, it may be more hassle than its worth to make a move to another one.
Doing a study on your current bank's performance, however, is never time wasted. You may discover practices and charges that you do not agree with, and wish to take them up with your bank manager. Or you may simply affirm that your banking is as good, and stress-free, as it can get.
Either way, you will know the facts and rest easier at night, knowing that you are in control of your money.
TOOLS & RESOURCES: Copy this Bank Evaluation Questionnaire for your own use.
No - Why?
1. Do you like the way you are treated as a customer?
2. Is your online banking site easy to navigate?
3. Does your bank offer high yield accounts and low rate loans?
4. Is you money safe? Does your bank have deposit insurance or a guarantee scheme?
5. Are there plenty of ATM's or cash machines that allow you to pay bills or deposit money, as well as withdraw it, and are they easily accessible and "fee-free"?
6. Are your bank's admin and account maintenance rates and fees reasonable?
7. What else is your bank doing to make your life easier and worry-free?