Less than one-third of Americans feel confident in banks, according to a Gallup poll. This is about the same level of confidence Americans have in the criminal justice system or the presidency. Yikes.
If you’re wondering what’s to blame for this, you might consider the 2008 financial crisis, which was engineered by Wall Street. Or the cascade of bank scandals, which have besieged stalwarts like Wells Fargo and Citibank. Or the abundance of banking fees, which cost the average American $329 per year.
Rather than looking backwards, however, we’d prefer to focus on the future. We’d like to zero in on how Americans can change their relationships with banks. So, we’d like to start with a simple question: If your bank was a person, would you remain in your relationship?
Indeed, just like a bad boyfriend, a negative relationship with your bank can damage your entire perspective — and a good relationship can make everything better. Here’s how (and why) to ensure you and your bank fall into the latter category.
How Your Finances Affect Your Mental Health
While there’s no denying your finances have an impact on your psyche, a recent survey from Northwestern Mutual revealed just how much:
- 25% of people feel anxiety about money “all the time” or “often.”
- 44% call money their main stressor — more than their personal relationships (25%) or job (18%).
These statistics are not surprising, according to financial planner and money coach Debbie Sassen.
“Money management skills are something a lot of us are missing,” says Sassen.
“We didn’t learn them from our parents — it was a totally taboo topic of conversation — and we didn’t learn them in school… So from the outset, as adults, we feel vulnerable and intimidated about money,” she says.
With high fees, scandals and impersonal customer service, many of the big banks exasperate these feelings. “Generally and broadly, there’s a lack of trust among millennials in the financial industry, and it’s deserved,” financial planner Ariel Anderson told Fast Company.
“We constantly read headlines about the missteps of banks like Wells Fargo; we lived through the financial crisis,” states Anderson.
One such millennial is Valerie Stimac, a travel writer for Space Tourism Guide. At her traditional bank, she paid an estimated $7.95 per month to maintain her checking account.
“It felt like they were taking advantage of me, rather than providing a service. “It was frustrating to have a bank I felt like I couldn’t trust,” says Stimac.
It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way
One Gallup poll found that, at the least trusted bank, a mere 12% of customers strongly believed the company had their best interests at heart. At the most trusted bank, more than five times that number (64%) felt the same way.
Clearly, where you bank matters, and not all banks are built the same way. (Some never even charge fees.) Sassen, the financial coach, says a trustworthy bank “can be your friend” and “help you create a good safety cushion.”
In search of that “friend,” travel writer Stimac left her bank after more than a decade.
“Switching banks has been the best decision I’ve made,” she says.
“[Now] I trust my bank to look out for me as a customer — and to look out for my money, which is the foundation of my financial future.”
Stimac is far from alone when it comes to switching banks. Dan Pierson, founder of Bolt Travel, says he “got really tired of paying $12 a month for my checking account, then getting hit with $35 overdraft fees on $2.50 coffee purchases.”
So, after moving to a new city where his brick-and-mortar had no physical branches, Pierson switched to an online-only bank.
“My banking has been much simpler since moving online, and the customer service is significantly improved. It feels great to be backed by a bank that’s aligned with my financial goals,” he says.
Ready to Break Up With Your Bank?
Banking doesn’t have to be a miserable, fee-ridden chore. It can be free, and easy – and maybe even fun.
Obviously we’re biased, but we think Chime is all that — and more. By charging zero fees, offering early direct deposit, and encouraging automatic saving, we strive to overturn the negative experiences you may have had with other institutions.
We thrive off trust and transparency; on working with you, rather than against you. And we want you to like us as much as we like you.
In our opinion, that’s the way every relationship — whether it’s with a business or a human — should be. Don’t you agree?