The point of this post: there are bankers out there who actually care more about doing a good job for their clients than for the bank, and they’re worth finding…and keeping.
Today, we’re making friends with bankers.
Lets pause here for a minute, so you can catch your breath and maybe stop laughing.
Remember that bankers get paid to sell you stuff – it’s in the job description.
Sure, every single person in the branch – whether behind the counter or the desk – is actually a salesperson, and gets lots of pressure from management to sell something to every person who walks in the door. Sure, their annual performance is based (mostly) on how often they signed up new credit card accounts, or sold bank branded managed portfolios of mutual funds.
Don’t let that stop you from finding a great banker and cultivating that relationship. Use your knowledge of how the system works to access the best the bank has to offer (its great people), while seeing through the fluff marketing meant to convince you that the institution itself cares about your best interests and not solely the business dollars you represent.
The best bankers are dinosaurs, but they still exist.
The banker you want to find is the one who still views herself as a service provider, and chafes a little at the constant “sales! Sales! SALES!” pressure she gets at every meeting. The best bankers have worked at their institution for years, know the products in and out, and – most importantly – know exactly how they work.
The best bankers will analyze what you actually need from a bank account, loan, or credit card, and match you up with the most cost-effective product for you. They will call you back when you’re trying to figure out what that transaction was in January of last year.
The best bankers care about what you want, tell you about new products that you might actually need, and take no for an answer if you’ve heard them out and disagree with them.
So how do you find this mythical beast, the banker who cares?
Now for the big question: how do you find this rarity, the banker who cares for his or her clients, doesn’t really want to be a salesperson, and knows the bank for the Byzantine labyrinth of rules, guidelines, and discontinued products that it actually is?
The boring news is that you look. Start with the bank you currently have some accounts with. Book an appointment to talk about your existing products, and see how it goes.
Plan on making multiple trips. Don’t agree to anything in the first go-around, but listen carefully to the advice you’re getting, and examine it’s merits once you get home. Know what you need from your accounts and ask lots and lots of questions.
Give them all the information they ask for. Yes, if you have assets, accounts, or lending outside of that bank, you will be asked about them, but if you’ve found a good banker, you’ll be shown the comparable products, told about the benefits, and left to decide. You may even find that it’s in your best interest to consolidate more of your business with one bank (or you may not).
If you get the hard sell, make appointments at the other banks in town, or see if you can find someone else to talk to at another branch of your current institution.
Why go to all this trouble, when you’re still going to be getting sold to?
Finding a good banker will mean that you have someone with a conscience on the inside, someone who can translate the bank-speak and scare-sale language into plain English, tell you what rules you have to follow and which guidelines don’t apply to you, and help you navigate the ins and outs of active, maintained but no longer sold, and inactive account types so that you’re getting the best, cheapest bank products with the minimum of hassle.
Isn’t that worth a little legwork?