I have always thought that banking was a commodity. (commodity is anything for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation across a given market.) Okay, I “borrowed” that definition. Here is my real definition. A commodity is a product or service that isn’t easily differentiated. I wonder if Cal Ewing, the Patron Saint of High School Economics, would approve of that definition.
Anyway, a bank is bank. Right? You keep your money there, they charge you dumb fees, and then you complain about it. Well, it turns out that I am wrong. [Mrs Planner: “Nothing new there”] I started thinking recently about the relationship with my bank. What relationship? I have banked with them since I was in 8th grade, and I never really had an ongoing relationship with anyone. I know that I mainly use online banking, but if I have real problem…who do I call? This started to bother me. I was contacted by another local bank recently, and they had me in to the branch to discuss what they could do for me. Frankly, if they just called me by name, then they could have my business. I always like being on a first name business with people. You know, like Norm on Cheers. [Side note: Being on a first name basis with a bail bondsman is not good.]
Well it turns out that the new wave of banking is all about turning things back to the old school. Shell-toed Adidas, Kangol hats, and thick gold chains. Okay, maybe not. In this case, the old school is the fact that they want to know your name. Novel concept, right?
So, I switched. I also found out that there are no fees on my new accounts, I got a free safe deposit box, they game me 200 bones for switching [not actual bones; that would be weird; money, people, money], and I got a personal banker. What’s a personal banker? I still don’t know yet, but I have someone to email and talk to when I have questions.
I feel that I was properly rewarded for not doing things status quo. I had realized that I had been complacent with my banking. I will update you in six months when all the hidden fees show up.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.