I was the teenager that never really bothered reading any disclosures when she signed up for something. Neither did I ever pay attention to the fine print of a guide given by a bank, a gym membership, a car dealership or even something so little as terms and conditions of updating windows software.
But it was not until last year, when I landed the job of a banker when I learned all these things and realized how ignorant and self-harming I had been all these years. How many times do we walk into a bank and open up an account without really paying attention to the onboarding documents they provide us with? I would say, almost every time.
I was not taught about the steps I had to take to enhance my financial journey as a teenager. You may ask, why so? It is because my parents or siblings had not paid attention to those things either. So here I am , penning down five things I learned about the banking industry, that every one should be aware of in order to succeed financially. In order to optimize your relationship with the bank.
- No-Fee Accounts: Based on every individual’s financial situation, banks have a product that fits to their current needs. What that means, if you are just beginning your banking and need to really avoid any extra spending or monthly maintenance fee, you need to be enrolled in the very basic account with your bank. Might as well ask if they offer students a specific kind of product. Each bank has a designed student product that allows more flexibility and waives off more fees than you can possible imagine. Take advantage of those accounts, not having to worry about those monthly charges will give you the peace of mind you need to build your accounts and save money. Did you know, on average, a very basic account can have a maintenance fee ranging from $7.00 - $10.00?
- Work with One Banker: I stayed with my previous bank for four years and not once did I have someone sit down with me to talk about my accounts. Review them or recommend something better. For four years that I banked there, I did not work one on one with a banker. That is how they lost my interest and my business. Remember folks, when you open an account at a bank, it is your right to ask for a designated banker. It does not matter which person helps you open the account, because it is what comes after the account opening that truly matters. Once the banker has opened the account for you, make sure you stick to them. Any problems that arise, instead of calling customer service and being on hold for an hour, call the banker you initially worked with. Imagine how much time you would be saving by just having a point person. Bankers are trained to assist you in your financial journey and make it better for you.
- Inquire About Credit Cards: While the world is teeming with institutes that specialize in credit cards only, don’t forget that your primary bank also has credit cards to offer. Now, I am not saying to ignore every other company and only go with your bank. But have you ever thought of the advantages that you could possibly receive if you were to attach your credit card relationship with your deposit accounts? Simply put, credit card is a loan that is provided to you for usage in order to build your credit history. The more careful you are with paying the balances, the higher chances you have of establishing a good credit history. When you use a credit card provided by your bank, you are basically securing your finances by having it all in one place. Every segment of your finance journey is then linked to one institute which makes it easier for you dispute fraudulent activities faster in case something happened.
- Investments Offered Through Banks: Now hear this, a bank is not only there to provide you with deposit accounts. Banks have now expanded their product range. You now have a whole new department in your bank that is only working to assist people with their investments needs. Let’s be honest here, you are not going to make much returns on a typical savings account. And especially during such uncertain times, when interest have been dipping like crazy, you need something else that can make your money. Take advantage of your bank’s investment department. Ask them, sit down with them. Fun Fact: Most banks offer this as an on-boarding thing for clients, then what are you waiting for? You don’t have to pay a penny and you get to have this meaningful conversation with trained advisors that are there to compose portfolios for you.