Sometimes we assume that the bank will help us make the right decision for all our banking and investment needs. After all, is that not their job?
Well yes, but their job is also to make money for the bank. The bank takes our money and invests it to make its own money. Fair enough.
So how do you know whose interest they are serving?
Here’s my advice:
1 – Do your homework. Find out ahead of time (online, brochures, friends etc.) what are the typical fees, types of accounts, investments, mortgages, interest rates etc. Come prepared knowing the fair market value and special deals going on.
2 – Establish a relationship. Do not just see any banker. Find someone you like, or if you have no choice, establish rapport with your assigned account manager. Smile, shake hands, get a card, chit-chat and invest in the relationship. You might be surprised how far a little charisma gets you around fees.
3 – Ask questions. Remember that this is your money. Do not passively let the bank put you into an account that has higher fees for services that you will not be using. Do not get a higher interest rate credit card when there are lower ones available. Be polite at all times, but ask questions. Only pay the fees you have to and find out how to minimize them.
4 – Talk about the future. You may just be going in there today to set up a simple savings account, but talk about your future mortgage, retirement savings, investments or line of credit. Both you and your manager should understand that you need each other, and can have a productive, profitable future together if you are honest and upfront with each other.
5 – Communicate confidence and success. Dress nice, sit properly, speak clearly and confidently, no matter how much money your bank account has or is lacking. Ultimately you are selling yourself, and we all know that financial situations change frequently over time. Make them trust you and believe in you.
6 – Lastly, don’t wait for a rainy day or a crisis to hit to ask for money. When you have money and a good credit rating, that is the time to get a loan, line of credit or card. Be disciplined with its use, but the fact is it’s much easier to get money when you have it than when you do not.