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Fact or Fiction: Making Friends with Your Bank

In the course of our lives, we form many relationships – with people, ideas, places, possessions and institutions. Strong, weak, somewhere in-between, fun, and not-so-fun relationships are inescapable.

One of the most important institutions in our lives is our bank. It’s the place we trust with our hard earned cash, borrow from, and sacrifice for in the form of monthly fees. They can be unbearably frustrating.

At first glance, the idea of having something as personal as a relationship with a huge and faceless corporation may seem odd. However, upon closer inspection we can find many similarities between the relationships we have with our spouse or friend, and our banks.

As with any relationship, there are ups and downs when dealing with banks. There will be spurts of elation and pits of depression. Although many people would be inclined to define their relationship with their bank as painful and unpleasant, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a number of ideas you can put in practice to alleviate stress when managing relations with your bank.

Form a personal connection
To do this, we need to shift our thinking.

Try to see your bank as composed of human beings. Once you realize that you are dealing with people, things will be considerably smoother. Make friends with the tellers, financial advisers, and managers at your bank – get to know their names and keep in touch. This may be more difficult at a larger bank, but quite manageable at a smaller branch.

Making friends at the bank will help the folks remember your name and story. This is always beneficial when negotiating for a better deal as people tend to be more helpful and sympathetic towards their friends.

Ask for it
If you are struggling with high fees or you think you should be getting a better deal, the best thing to do is just ask. You lose nothing by asking your bank for better rates. Your bank needs your business and will likely be open to compromise to retain you as a customer. It all comes down to this: nothing will change unless you make the first move and break the ice.

Keep demands reasonable
That being said, it is also important to keep your demands reasonable. You definitely want the best deal possible, but relationships are a two way street and you can’t leave the other party with no room to maneuver.

Negotiate with the aim to satisfy both parties. Never try to get too much done in one session or argument. Break down your demands into smaller, easily achievable requests. Keeping your demands reasonable ensures they are more likely to get met.

Understand your rights
While you’re wrangling with banks and other financial institutions, make sure you know your rights as a consumer. It’s a good idea to always read the fine print as well as brushing up on any relevant legislation. Find out what you and your bank can and can’t do and be sure to let the bank know when they’re not playing fair. Always seek assistance if you have trouble deciphering the rules and regulations governing banking activities – it can be very difficult going up against these organizations on your own.

Weigh alternatives
If you find yourself unable to settle with your bank, do yourself a favour and shop around for a better deal. Banks are always eager for new customers and you might very well receive a juicy deal for transferring.

Make sure to conduct research into a bank’s past practices and the way they are known to have treated their customers before. Feel free to cite other banks’ deals to your own for concessions. If this doesn’t work, you might want to consider parting ways with your bank.

Cultivating a strong and healthy relationship with your bank is not only doable, but indeed highly beneficial. Just as with the people in our lives, it can be easy to yell, snap and get frustrated. Unfortunately, this damages our bonds with other people and gets us nowhere. Frustration with your bank is natural, but thankfully it is something that can be managed and resolved.

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Alex Kvaskov

Alex Kvaskov put together his first newspaper with tape and glue when he was eight years old. Discovering his passion for reading and writing at an early age, Alex decided to pursue his interests full time. His first step was getting published in his university newspaper and he is working on becoming an editor at the paper. Alex is currently a Content Development Intern at Goddess Connections.
  • Teraya Smith

    Great advice. Making friends with your bank is one of the best pieces of financial advice for anyone. When you’re looking for guidance with your money, having that person within the establishment who knows the best advice to give really helps. Not only will you feel comfortable talking about those much needed financial situations, but they will be more than willing to help.

  • http://www.oliviamainville.com/ Olivia Mainville

    I totally agree with your first point in trying to see the people who work at the bank, not just the bank itself. People often harbour such resentment against banks, and assume the face of the bank (the tellers) are “in on it.” Not always so! A lot of the time bank tellers aren’t even that well paid, anyway.

    • Alex Kvaskov

      Yes, and it’s probably not a good idea to lash out at the tellers either if you’re frustrated with the bank.

  • http://goddessconnections.com/ Amanda Tucci

    I think you said it perfectly, Teraya. There is something to be said about building a strong relationship with the people in your bank. Just as a relationship between two people implicates a higher level of trust and priority, having a personal relationship with the people we trust our money to can result in many of the same benefits.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/108592570100176929157/posts Francine Lingad

    Great article! I appreciate the reminders to ask if there’s something you don’t understand, and shop around for better deals. It’s very practical advice. Sometimes we forget about such simple things, especially when we’re just starting out.