When I graduated from college in 2006 and looked for writing or editing jobs, I found nothing. Desperate for something other than my waitressing job, I took the only position I could find: as a teller and then personal banker at US Bank.
One of the most interesting things about taking a new job is how much you learn about the industry – and how different things look on the other side of the table. I used to think tellers were nothing more than people there to run transactions and that bankers were nothing more than people trying to close a loan. I was wrong.
For one thing, tellers are responsible for a lot of money. The sheer amount of money in my control every day was nothing short of terrifying. The need to double check everything you do and keep those books balanced is imperative – as being even slightly off can cause suspect and maybe even lose you your job.
For another thing, tellers are responsible for much more than just transactions. When I was in banking, there were very serious sales goals we had to hit in the form of new checking accounts, credit cards, and referrals to bankers for loans. I was constantly stressed about hitting those goals and, frankly, always came up short. Still, I was promoted to personal banker thanks to my work ethic. That’s when things changed for me.
As a personal banker, the emphasis was placed on relationship building. Yes, there are sales goals to reach. But no, not everyone is in the market for a new loan the day they come in. So if you build a relationship with them, you can be there when they do have those needs. What does that mean to you as a consumer?
It means that your personal banker’s best interest is in getting to know you. That a good personal banker will strike up a relationship with you if are open to it – thus helping you through even seemingly mundane things now.
Things Your Personal Banker Can Help You With
The fact that your banker wants to be your go-to source when you have deposit, borrowing, and even investment needs means a good personal banker will be there for you now.
In other words, not striking up a relationship with your personal banker could be costing you a valuable and knowledgeable resource. Here are just a few things your personal banker can help you with:
Creating and maintaining a budget
If you’ve never sat down to write a budget and have no idea where to start, your personal banker can help you. I remember showing customers things as simple as maintaining a checkbook register (that was still a thing back then).
Benefit: Remember, your bank and banker want you to be a customer whose money grows – so helping you create and maintain a budget benefits both you and them.
Saving for future goals
Another thing I helped people with as a personal banker was creating goal savings accounts. They could be used for small things such as saving for the holidays or a vacation or large things like saving for a down payment for a car or home.
Benefit: When you open new deposit accounts, such as a goal savings account, that counts as a sale for your personal banker. It’s also a really effective savings tactic for you.
Building Your Credit for Future Needs
Even if not yet, you might be in the market someday for a new home, car, or even business. By talking to your banker about your future desires, he or she can help you plan. Then, when the day comes and you need credit (such as a mortgage or business loan) to help you reach that goal, your banker can help you through that as well. This could even work as you plan investment needs, as personal bankers can refer you to the bank’s investment managers.
Benefit: Your banker gives you financial strategies to plan for your goals and then your banker gets to close the deal when you’re ready.
Getting Personal with Your Personal Banker Now
We’re so used to being barraged with financial marketing that it’s second nature to think most of what we see is a scam. But if you can find a personal banker that listens to you, understands your goals, and never (ever) pushes, prods, or pressures you, then you can strike up a truly beneficial relationship.
Shannon McNay is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.