I’m going to take a wild guess as to what happened during your last trip to the bank. You went to the teller simply to cash a check, and the teller tried to push a credit card on you. Or perhaps you needed to speak to a personal banker to order a book of checks, and the banker started asking you about your retirement plans.
Sound familiar? It can be quite frustrating when you’re just trying to get in and out, and yet the staff is trying to sell you all these bank products that you’ve never even heard of before. And this is literally from the moment you started your relationship with your bank. All you want to do is open up a checking account and get a debit card, right? All you need is to withdraw a hundred or two for the week, correct? Why can’t your banker just stop asking probing questions about the rate you’re paying on your mortgage and just do the thing you need him to do in the first place!?
Well I’m here to explain to you why your banker keeps selling you stuff……. and why you should listen.
Why Your Banker Keeps Selling You Stuff
What They Get Out Of It
I guess we should address the elephant in the room before anything else. Why is your banker constantly trying to push products on you? Because it’s their job.
A bank is a for-profit business set up with the intent to make money. Those “greedy banks that care more about their profits than their customers” exist with the express purpose of making that profit. And while the simple act of depositing $50,000 into your account doesn’t actually make the bank $50,000, they still need more customers in order to make more money. And since the branches are the only place where they can have an in-depth conversation with you (I guess they can also do so over the phone, but it’s not the same as the necessary level of trust is much harder to build when you can’t see the person), they want to make sure everybody there is working towards growing the business.
The bankers (and even the tellers) may also be getting a commission for every account they open, but this doesn’t happen as often as you think. Many banks will simply pay a bonus to their employees if they exceed certain goals. Get the idea of ridiculously high bonuses for overpaid snake oil salesmen out of your head now; these bonuses tend to be really small (a couple hundred every quarter for a retail banker can be expected for a very good performance), and salaries for branch employees are actually really small for the work that they do (a personal banker’s salary seems to range from an average of $34,000 to $40,000 a year). Not to mention that the government taxes half of that. And the tellers have it worse. Their quarterly bonuses tend to be just enough to fill up their gas tanks for the week. When you consider how dangerous their job can be (they are the prime targets of robbery, sometimes by former MIT professors) and how no customer at the teller window wants to be on the receiving end of a sales pitch, well, let’s just say I think the tellers deserve a bit more.
Regardless of whether we’re getting commissions, bonuses, or an attitude, something that we bankers do get when we open up an account are sales points. Because we have a quota to meet. All of us. Again, even the tellers. And if we don’t meet them, not only does it impact our ability to earn a raise or a promotion, but we may also lose our jobs if we don’t meet those quotas.
So that’s what we get out of it. A commission/bonus, the ability to get promoted out of the branches (read: away from you, the customer), a day that we don’t have to hear our boss demanding to know why we haven’t put in more loan applications today, and a paycheck. Money, ultimately. We’re doing it for money.
Why You Should Listen
What You Get Out Of It
So now that I’ve told you what you already knew, it’s pretty much confirmed that us bankers are looking out only for ourselves and will sell anything to make a buck, right? We’ll just happily force-sell your teenager a credit card and your grandmother a mortgage to make our quotas, even if it totally destroys their finances? After all, isn’t the best thing to have with your bank just a checking account and a debit card and/or checkbook?
No, and whoever tells you otherwise is a moron.
A good banker will listen to your situation and match you with products that suit your needs. And while a dishonest banker will try to force-sell you crap, my years of experience of taught me that that’s not the norm. When you sit at my desk, I will bring to your attention a wide array of products that are designed to make your life easier, protect your money, and cut down on your fees.
Don’t believe me that bank products are designed to minimize your fees rather than extort you for every penny? Well, when you opened your account, did you tell the banker that you only wanted that and no savings account, tuning him or her out when they tried to explain the benefits of having a savings account? Well, you tuned out the part where he mentioned that the savings account can be linked for overdraft protection, charging you significantly less than the standard overdraft fees. Did you do the same thing when the banker mentioned online banking? Because online banking gives you real time access to your accounts so that you can catch that unauthorized transaction right away rather than when your statement comes in the mail (at the same time your rent check is due). So on and so forth.
Don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to take every product that someone throws your way, nor should you accept your banker’s word without at least doing some rudimentary research for yourself. And you should always be on the lookout for the dishonest bankers. They are out there.
But getting just the bare essentials and then throwing a hissy fit every time someone brings up a bank product hurts you way more than it hurts us. Because when I’m trying to cross-sell you products, I’m doing so for your benefit as much as mine (because there are bank products that I think are completely worthless and you won’t hear me mention them because they are a waste of my time and my customer’s). So if you want to only have the basic account even though the amount of money you’re bringing in qualifies you for the high-level account, then fine. But don’t let me hear you arguing with the teller that you shouldn’t have to pay a fee for a bank check, and don’t come to me demanding free stop payments and checkbooks. I offered all that stuff to you and you didn’t want it. Don’t want a savings account with free overdraft protection because “I don’t overdraft my account”? No problem, but I told you that you leave your money very vulnerable to fees and identity theft that way, and I will absolutely not “do you a favor” and refund your $105 in overdraft fees later this month. If you had listened to me, that $105 in fees would have been a mere $10 (or nothing, in some cases).
The customers that always come in claiming that the bank is extorting them tend to be the ones with just a checking account and nothing else. Heaven forbid I tell them about a product that will prevent the problem they are having going forward. But my customers–the ones that listen to the products that my bank offers and why they would benefit from them, and enroll in or open the ones that might actually suit their needs–tend to have no problems and hold a very positive view of my bank.
So again, that’s why your banker keeps selling you stuff………..and why you should listen. Everybody gets something out of it, plain and simple. We get our commissions/bonuses/sales points, and you get more convenience and protection from even the most ridiculous and unethical of bank fees.
Readers–What do YOU think? Is your banker only out for his or herself, or have you actually received some benefit from your bank products? Have you had an ongoing problem that was solved by a completely free product that your banker brought to your attention? Or on the flip side, have you ever had a problem CREATED by an overpriced product that your banker manipulated you into buying? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!