Most Kenyans have at least one bank account, and the account has likely been with the same bank ever since they started banking. Rarely do people realize that the banking industry is a highly competitive one. Banks out there are trying to outdo each other by providing the best rates and incentive services to retain and attract customers.
But at the same time, banks -especially the traditional ones- understand that breaking up is difficult, which is why they will try to get away with providing you with poor interest rates on deposits and charging you fees for every service. It’s up to you to perform solid research and find a bank that best suits your needs.
Here are five indicators that it may be time to say goodbye to your bank and find a new home for your money.
Suffocating Bank Fees
Like in a romantic relationship, you know it’s time to break things off with your bank when they keep asking for more than is reasonable. I know, that analogue is in poor taste. Obviously, the banking relationship is more special because your hard-earned cash is closely at stake.
Are you aware of the fees your bank is charging you? Your bank may charge you extra fees for maintenance, failing to maintain the required minimum amount, and obtaining hardcopy statements. How about ATM charges and overdraft fees? Critically compare your current bank charges against the market rate, if they seem underhanded and unreasonable then it might be time to break up.
When it comes to banking and investing in general, you should only put your money where its value is appreciated.
What’s the interest rate your current bank is offering? How does it compare with the rate other institutions offer? By shifting your money elsewhere, you may earn a significantly greater Annual Percentage Yield (APY), especially if you join a high-yield savings account. Compare prices and shop around. Check out what credit unions, digital-only banks, and smaller, regionally based banks have to offer. Go where your business and money are appreciated.
Lack of products or features you need
Banks have evolved beyond their basic function as a safe place to keep your money. Nowadays, the market demands that banks provide a wide range of products and services meant to make money management and investment easier. Talk of personal and business loans, savings and current accounts, among other investment options. These are financial services that you will require depending on your financial needs. If your current bank is not meeting them, then it’s time to move to another institution that will.
Not only the products, but your bank should also offer tools and services such as online check deposits, bill payments and expenditure reports. The bank app should be also efficient. If you are not receiving these services, it might be time to make a change.
Rumors of Fraud or Insolvency
The digitalization of banking has resulted in a surge in banking fraud. To the point that E-banking is now an entire industry. Cyber criminals steal information and perpetrate bank fraud through techniques like phishing, the use of viruses and Trojans, and identity theft-the oldest trick in the book.
With this spike in bank fraud, all that stands between your savings and those who commit fraud for sport is the security system the bank has put in place. If you become aware of the slightest hint of fraud relating to your bank, you should follow up. And if the rumors persist, then it might be time to take your money somewhere safer. The same goes for insolvency rumors.
Pathetic customer service
You walk into your current bank and you are greeted -or ignored- by a stressed-out staff. (I am not about to suggest a welcome party. Although, personally, I won’t mind one.) Out of the seven counters, only one teller is present and, as one comedian once joked, there’s another teller who keeps appearing and disappearing. When they are finally ready to sort out your issue, you have to repeat your account number three times in ten minutes.
There is no excuse for rude or indifferent treatment. Once again, the banking sector is very competitive and there are better options who are eager and ready to serve you. Look for a bank that provides customer assistance beyond that of a teller. Look for a bank that has a 24-hour help line and customer support lines that connect to real people rather than an automated audio message.
In general, before taking any action, it is wise to consider the benefits and drawbacks of leaving your current bank and how you can profit from doing so. Conduct your research and compare accounts based on your most important financial need. You will also have to assess whether it is worthwhile to maintain some links to your old bank.