The Art of Switching Banks

In this article: Switching from an existing bank to a new bank is a healthy financial exercise. By switching banks, you can achieve new goals and preserve your wealth.

Published Sept. 16, 2020

Reading Time: 4 minutes.

Banking is a key element in most people’s financial lives. As times have changed, so too have the relationship we have with our banking institutions. In past generations, our grandparents and parents considered their bank to be a steady and long-term one-stop-shop. They most likely personally knew the branch manager, who was located a few streets away from their home or business, remembered every detail of their day-to-day and exchanged holiday cards yearly. Bank branch managers knew their clients’ cash flow, warned them when a check would bounce, and even reminded them of the payment dates of their credits and obligations. Now that the personalized touch of banking has been diminished, it’s worthwhile to consider if your existing bank is right for you and your long term financial goals. Is it time to switch banks? Furthermore, do you know how to switch banks?

A New Era of Banking

Changes in Banking

The automation of robotic processes (RPA) in banking services combined with the adoption of mobile banking has caused a change in monetary habits and a different approach to financial management. US mobile banking stats reveal that 89% of American bank account holders use mobile banking for account management. At the same time, the number of commercial banks has dropped dramatically in the past 30 years – from more than 18,000 companies in the US in the early 90s to just over 5,000, by the end of 2019. The disappearance of small and medium-sized banks, which today represent less than 16% of the market, means the biggest banks just got bigger.

Unhappy, But Stuck

The Financial Crisis of 2008–2009 left many with a bad taste in their mouth regarding traditional “big banks.” Top objections include dissatisfaction regarding traditional banking services, and their influence on the economic system However, many remain with their bank due to the painful switching cost associated with finding a better option.

Why Switch Banks?

Financial planners recommend periodically reviewing your investment and banking portfolio in order to ensure they align with your financial goals. During this review, you may identify wealth leaks in your bank statements. An example of this is if you have several products or accounts with different banks, it might be more effective for you to consolidate your portfolio at a single institution. 

You may be paying fees for services you don’t use or are being charged too high an interest rate on your loans or credit cards, compared to other offers available on the market. You may also identify that your bank’s customer service is not the best for your unique needs and values. Hours waiting on hold make clearing up simple doubts an arduous process and likely limit your ability to discuss how to take advantage of better interest rates, more agile services, and much more convenient products for you and your money. It may be that your bank’s online banking services platform is not user friendly enough for your needs.

Additionally, the bank where you deposit your money may not reflect your personal values. In any case, you have the right to change banks. Once you decide to take the leap, it’s best that you know the most reliable method to do so.

How To: Switch Banks

Changing banks is simpler than you’d think, but there are plenty of small details you need to keep an eye out for in order to avoid major setbacks.

Be Mindful

Select the bank to which you will transfer your money, according to the parameters that best suit your interests. Take your time researching institutions and financial service providers. There are comparative reviews, company size considerations, and watchdog agency reports that can help facilitate your search. Your new bank should give you peace of mind and competitive saving interest rates. There is no need to rush in making a decision.

Unbind Progressively

Start by canceling automatic payments for products, utilities, and other bills through your savings accounts and credit cards. Often, these automatic payment options are the features that most deter or postpone an individual’s decision to change their bank, but now there are plenty of companies that help you manage these subscriptions.

Through the institution’s website, you can collect all the critical information to reconfigure your payment network and frequent money transfers. It is essential to review your media and streaming platforms accounts, online services, and monthly or annual subscriptions to identify the payment cut-off date and prevent a new unexpected withdrawal from postponing your bank change. Also, check if there are other bank products, like insurances and commissions, associated with your accounts through automatic debit withdrawals. 

Establish a Healthy Relationship From the Get-Go

Set up all the services you are going to access. Pay close attention not to fall back into the same practices that might have led you to dislike your previous bank. If you made your benchmark analysis mindfully, you’ll be clear on the rates and fees (if any) that will be applied to your account. As you are switching banks, take this opportunity to improve the security of your financial accounts and create strong passwords. If you are unsure of how to navigate the rates, fees, and set up a plan associated with your new account, make sure to speak with your financial advisor to confirm the account is the best choice for you in both the short and long term.

Transfer your Money Safely

The easiest way to transfer large sums of money from your current bank is via ACH bank to bank transfers. Certified checks from your current bank are another route. First, withdraw cash for your expenses for the next three days and request a certified check for the remainder of the funds in your old bank account. This ensures all your money is withdrawn, making it easier to close your account later. Since certified checks freeze your funds for approximately three days, the cash withdrawal (which you can also add to your new account) will allow you to get on with your life normally as the original funds are added to your new account. The third option for an immediate transfer is a wire transfer, which may cost you up to $30. 

Develop your Income and Payment Schedule

Notify your employer, clients, and any other applicable parties of your new account to avoid unexpected wire transfers to your previous bank that may hinder the process of moving your products and accounts. Make sure that the cut-off dates of your loan payments or your new credit cards coincide with those of your income to avoid surprises. Set up all your automatic payments with all the new account information.

Additionally, use this account switch as an opportunity to track your monthly payment schedule and identify which services or expenses are necessary or if you are getting the most out of them. The information you collected while canceling payments from your previous account will be useful to establish a calendar that allows you to create a budget and have liquidity throughout the months to come.

Say Farewell to your Old Bank

To close your accounts and other pending products in your previous bank, you’ll have to speak with your branch to notify them of the closure and verify that everything is effectively canceled. Reviewing each product you previously help ensures avoiding cancellation fees or fine-print terms that could potentially haunt you down the road.

Your Financial Well-Being is the Priority

Just like in past generations, your bank should focus on satisfying your needs as a customer and providing the best quality of services in relation to your unique financial needs and life goals. If the financial institution you’re currently working with fails to provide you with competitive rates and fees and the support you need, it may be time to consider switching banks. The best way to ensure you’re always working with an institution that is best suited to your goals and values is to meet with your financial advisor and verify the institutional switch aligns with your holistic financial plan. 

Disclosure: This blog is not investment advice and should not be relied on for such advice or as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting, tax, legal or financial advisors. The observations of industry trends should not be read as recommendations for stocks or sectors.

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