The point of this post: treat the people you’re dealing with like people to reduce the chances of getting screwed by a faceless institution. Also because it’s the right thing to do.

I’m going to warn you: all this talk about skepticism is going to sound a bit rich coming from me, considering my Twitter bio reads “Fee only financial planner. Former banker. Often horrified by expert opinions, and wary of banks, brokers, and the credit industry.”

Working inside the banking industry could have easily made me a Bank Hating Skeptic (more on them later), and it certainly made me heartily weary of the “let’s sell them anything we can make money on” philosophy wearing the “we’re here to serve you” face, which is why my Facebook timeline is full of the kind of stories it’s full of.

Instead, my years as a banker helped me understand the single most important fact there is to know about financial institutions: hating an institution is about as productive as kicking a rock; neither cares about you, and you’re always the one who gets hurt.

 

DontKickTheRock

 

As far as I have been able to observe, Bank Hating Skeptics come in only two flavours: Smart and Bitter. Smart is full of quick retorts about bank profits no matter what he’s actually at the bank to talk about, and Bitter can’t get past how horrible they were to her in 1998 when she wrote the wrong date on a cheque and the bank still cashed it…but it’s too much work to switch banks.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Bank Hating Skeptics are right to be skeptical, if by “skeptical” you mean “intent on understanding the full meaning of any offer before agreeing to it”, “doggedly pursuing a fair resolution to a legitimate complaint”, or “investigating alternative options that will better serve their needs”.

See, it’s not the skepticism part that concerns me, and it’s not really the bank hating part either. Goodness knows, financial institutions have done nothing to deserve love or inspire loyalty. No, what bothers me is that this kind of person – in their zeal to prove that they’re too smart to get fooled – has also proven themselves too rude to get help.

You know, the thing about financial institutions is that they’re made up entirely of people, and the closer you are to street level, the more human those people are. The CEOs don’t even bank at the institution they head. The Vice Presidents and District Managers haven’t – I suspect – actually met a real client before, or if they have, it was so far in the distant past that the dinosaurs can’t even remember it.

It’s only when you get down to the level of the people who actually work in the branch  – and therefore cannot avoid you – that you find people who may work for a faceless institution but – most days – function like human beings.

Believe me, it is very, very easy for a banker who actually works with people to have a bad day. She is inundated with demands from her managers to get more work done in less time so she can cold call more people, fit in more appointments, and sell more stuff, without being given time to adequately meet the needs of the clients she had in front of her last week.

When a Bank Hating Skeptic walks in, and sits (or doesn’t) with arms crossed and a suspicious retort just hiding behind their lips, they are alienating the one person – if that person is a Bankosaurus – who has the potential to care about them as people who need help.

The problem with Bank Hating Skeptics is that they can’t distinguish between human and institution, so they’re kicking people instead of just rocks.

And that’s just counter-productive.

 

Sandi Martin

Co-Founder, Financial Planner at Spring Financial Planning
Fee only financial planner. Former banker. Money nerd. Curmudgeon only on days that end in "-day"