What’s Your Bank?
BY: Anna Liza Madayag Gaspar • Jul 22, 2019
At a time where everyone needs something at a moment’s notice, our bank has become a more important partner than ever not only for our financial needs but for also our personal growth. So how do we choose the right bank for all our needs?
Recently, one of the largest banks in the country was headline fodder for the wrong reason — its computer system went amok. Though the bank fully restored its system and made whole all affected account holders, many of us learned our lesson. A system-wide failure of a financial institution’s computer system is, unfortunately, no longer an isolated event. I bet my bank balance that it will be the new normal.
So, what was this lesson I learned from that bank computer system failure? I learned that the bank I choose to handle my financial transactions could mean being able to pay for my mother’s birthday cake or not. (On one of the days this bank’s system failed, I needed to withdraw money so I can pay for my mother’s birthday cake. I wasn’t able to withdraw from the ATM, but I was able to over-the-counter.)
After this event, and because I am in one of my life’s major phases where I need immediate access to large amounts of cash, I told myself that I need an account with another bank, sort of a backup account. As I was in Ilocos Norte, I decided to get a cash card with Banco de Oro. Unfortunately, when I went to pick it up, the bank, after an hour of waiting, informed me that they mistakenly perforated my cash card (it was still within the 60-day claiming period). I asked my application fee back. I am not sure if I will still bank with this bank. We’ll see.
How do we choose our bank then?
From the two incidences above, I’ve listed 4 criteria: customer service, speed of service, app, and network.
The bank has its customers’ welfare as a priority. This means that the bank has a history of responding to its customers’ concerns both offline and online.
To resolve my cash card issue, I looked for the bank’s twitter handle. They don’t have one. Nevertheless, I tweeted my frustration for waiting more than 30 minutes waiting for them to find the cash card. Then I posted another tweet documenting that the whole debacle took more than an hour (it took the bank another 20 minutes after I asked them for my money back). In spite of the fact that the bank has no twitter account, the person who handled my application called me, apologized, and asked to take down those tweets, otherwise, she might get punished. Of course, I took them down.
It’s weird to have a bank monitor social media even if they don’t have an account. That tells me that the customers are not the priority.
It is important that the bank has an online presence and within a reasonable time, responds to customers’ concerns and queries posted through its social media account. Access to money can be a matter of life and death.
Speed of Service
Another criterion is how fast the bank is in processing customer transactions when the customer is physically at the bank. Though we now have Internet banking, an actual bank visit is sometimes unavoidable. Real-Time response time for online concerns and queries is useless if it takes ages (for me this means more than 30 minutes) for you to line up at the bank before you get to a teller.
Time is more valuable than money. And if your bank demands an hour of your time so that you can deposit your hard-earned money, then it’s time to look for another bank.
With the convenience of Internet banking, a user-friendly mobile app is important. A missing functionality is one of the reasons why I closed my accounts in a bank. Its app doesn’t allow its account holders to send money to any account within the bank. Eventually, they added this app but charged PhP 10 every time you send money to any account other than those enrolled under your bank account.
The bank’s mobile app must be easy to navigate and include at the minimum the following functionalities: the ability to send money to any account including those you didn’t enroll, and ability to enroll a merchant without the need for any verification either through the bank’s ATMs or through any of its branches.
I listed this last because choosing a bank based on your personal network is not for everyone. This is more important for business people who may need to establish an above-average relationship with the people working for the bank especially when they need a loan for their business.
I opened an account with a bank because the branch manager is guwapo. I closed the account after a few years, thought the branch manager still looked the same; it was very inconvenient for me to go to the bank. It was off of the usual beaten track.
Some people open an account with a bank because the branch manager is a close friend. Someone told me he placed Php 5 million in a bank because he planned on wooing the branch manager.
Of course, he failed. Now, if he gave the Php 5 million to the branch manager … I am still looking for a bank to open my backup account with. If you have a suggestion, feel free to email me the bank name and why.