You call your bank and the phone agent tells you your balance, or orders your checks and does what you called in for. Then they end the call by saying that they are going to bring a banker on the line for your free account review.
You go into a branch and the make a deposit and the teller asks you to sit with a banker while the "process" your deposit so that the banker can "Review your accounts".
You go into a branch and you don't even make it to the teller because the banker says that they can process your deposit for you now, so they fill out your slip and send it with another person who disappears with it while they then turn to you after some small talk and promise they will review your accounts.
What is this new trend? What is going on here? Well as you should know by now, banks are FOR profit organizations. They must sell products to make a living. They also know that the more products you have with them the less likely you are to leave over some small issue that comes up when someone doesn't do what they were trained to do.
So you sit and talk to a Personal Banker, Product Specialist, Account Specialist, Whatever they call the person, they are a Sales Agent. What is next? What is this "Account Review" and what should you expect? Is it worth your time? Maybe. Let's talk it through.
The Account Review
- This person makes small talk with you and get's to know you, many times genuinely although they've been trained to do this. This will followed by the following things. Not all bankers do all of them, and not all bankers do them in this order, but this is the gist of the process:
- Update Contact Information
- To make sure they have the right information on file and to make sure they can contact you if anything comes up later that requires follow up.
- Make sure you are in the right accounts... avoiding or minimizing fees and such.
- Ask questions related to your life.
- Savings and Investing
- Accounts outside of their bank.
- Credit Needs
- Services Needs (Online Banking, Debit Card, Overdraft Protection, Etc)
- Long Term Planning, Retirement Planning, Etc
- General Consulting on financial principles (If the manager will let them go into this, generally they don't want them talking long if there are people waiting.)
- Advice. If you are going to say yes to an account review: BE OPEN! ENGAGE the conversation. Don't close out any topic, no matter how personal. Otherwise don't bother. The agent is there with experience. They have their ears to the ground in the financial world. Things change. You may need to know something they know.
- Contact Information. Many times your contact information IS out of date. When a joint signer account is updated by one signer the profile information of the other signer is NOT updated. Phone Numbers, Emails, Etc could all be old and out of date. This causes problems when they need to reach you for legitimate business reasons. "Why didn't my bank call me before shutting my card off?" Maybe they tried but you haven't updated your phone in 30 years.
- Financial Check Up. MOST people are not financially literate, and most who are don't know everything about everything. It's helpful to have a trained set of eyes and ears to bounce things off of and make sure you are financially fit. You go to a doctor once a year for a check up, why not have a financial check up? The banker, if they are good, may be able to make some suggestions that will escalate you to a new level of financial health.
- New Products and New Fees. There are new products ALL THE TIME. Banking regulations, placed by idiots in Washington, almost always turn around to hurt consumers. YOU will suffer anytime a new regulation is passed. Let the bankers see if you've been affected by some lame Washington DC scam (also known as Dodd-Frank Deformed Act and those like it). You may be paying fees. Account requirements may have changed. Make no illusions, banks are FOR profit. If Washington takes their profit away through interference, it will come out of YOUR pocket every time OR YOU will loose some great benefit, like debit card rewards.
- Too Often. This isn't really something you need to do more than once a year in most cases. Banks are pushing this so hard that if you frequently call or go in you may be subjected to this every time. Politely tell the banker you have already done your review this year and move on. Be kind but firm. No!
- Too Vague. Phone Agents and Tellers used to be trained to identify, through things you say or things they see in your accounts if you had a financial need that maybe even you didn't realize. This was a great thing. Now bankers just cop out with referring EVERYONE for an account review and they haven't actually seen anything that makes them thing you may need one. In many cases people are transferred who have no clue why they are being transferred, it's not being explained. They are not interested in this process when they finally are told what the process is, by then they've wasted several minutes of their time on a busy lunch break.
- Inexperienced Bankers. Bankers are a high turnover position. Sell or get out! There are many bankers who are in it for the long haul and really know their stuff. Some may be new to the company but not to banking. Others may be so new they are reading everything off a script like an actor and have NO idea what they are talking about. Check how comfortable you feel with the knowledge level of the person you are talking to.
- High Pressure Sales. They bottom line on paper is to help you with your finances. But really it's all about sales. You are going to be asked to "BUY" something almost ever time. Therefore the advice you get may be slanted toward the benefit of the banker and the bank. Do you really need a debit card for the account you never use just to loose it and risk fraud two months later? Do you need a second checking? Maybe it could help, but if you are overdrawn everyday a second checking is just a way to overdraw two accounts and pay two times the fees. Do you need Bill Pay if you still live with Mom and Dad and don't pay bills OR you are older and don't USE the internet which Bill Pay is based on?
- TIME - MORE TIME. How much time do you have? A decent account review will be AT LEAST 15 minutes unless they uncover a real need or two and then you will be taking more time on an application. THEN you will be transferred to a sales banker from a service banker/teller and then asked to transfer yet again to a partner of some kind. Insurance, Mortgage, Student Loans, Identity Theft Protection, Business, Etc... How many times can I be transferred in one call? 5 minutes with a service banker, 15-30 minutes with a sales banker, then another 15-30 minutes with a partner? Your 5 minute call just because an hour or an hour an half. If you had real financial needs, that maybe you didn't even know to ask about, this could have been a valuable session for you. In about 9 out of 10 cases it's a TOTAL waste of your time.
Your best Account Review will be done in person, in an office, with an experienced banker you already know and trust. If you find that banker, meet with them at least once a year, maybe more often, or as often as your life changes or you see things in the news regarding banks that you feel unsure about.
Then again, you could get lucky and get me!
I call you empowered 2 prosper with good success!
Darrell G. Wolfe
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