10 signs it’s time to switch banks

How loyal do you feel towards your bank? You might feel short-changed because, according to recent Roy Morgan research, business clients are far less satisfied with their banks than personal clients – some 14 percentage points less.

Banks do a poor job of meeting business clients’ complex and “potentially riskier” needs, according to Roy Morgan spokesman Norman Morris.

But leaving one bank and joining another means copious, potentially pointless admin, so you need to be certain of your decision. Here are 10 telltale signs that it is time to terminate.

1. Sour start

“First impressions are always the best impression,” says business coach Alex Pirouz.

If a bank slacks at the outset, be ready to bail, Pirouz says and recounts the “shocking” first interaction he had with a Big Four bank: his personal banker proved unhelpful and inefficient – generally, staff were rude.

“That relationship continued to be sour for the next couple of years, until I got my act together and actually changed,” Pirouz says. Trust your gut, he adds.

2. Hard sell

At a bad bank, Pirouz continues, staff do not bother to research your interests through Google or LinkedIn. Instead of talking to you cordially, staff thrust random products at you as you queue – if you want to hang around.

3. Poor rapport

Your dialogue with your bank should be personable, not commercial, says Pirouz.

Consider whether staff address you by your first name and whether their attitude is genuine. Follow your instincts, he says. If the staff seem fake and treat you as a number, they have their own interest at heart.

4. Net loss

Assess how hot your institution is at internet banking. For instance, Pirouz warns, some banks lag at logging transactions. A 24-hour delay could be problematic – especially if you have a regular income stream to track.

5. Broken promises

Another sign of a dud bank is that it over-promises, Pirouz says.

One example: your banks says you will have a unique business manager guaranteed to be supportive and prompt. In fact, the manager proves fatally slow, unfriendly and elusive – only interested in pushing products.

6. Piddling interest

If your bank pays little or no interest, that’s a deal-breaker, according to the head strategist at Sydney-based Financial Spectrum, Brenton Tong. A small business may sometimes have to sit on lots of money, so the interest rate could make a massive difference, says Tong.

7. Fees through the roof

Banks have the nasty habit of repeatedly raising fees, Tong says.

“And it seems at times that small businesses get the worst of it,” he adds, noting that a bank’s monthly “small business package” may cost triple what a retail client pays.

Remember, he says, that some accounts – including cash management accounts – charge no fees, even if you daily put thousands of transactions through them, but they still pay interest. Weigh up whether your fees are fair.

8. Hold rage

When you ring your bank, notice how long it keeps you on hold after the standard automated “please hold” spiel. If you are forced to wait more than two minutes before a human cuts in, you have good reason to reconsider your options, says Tong. Suppose that when you call your bank, you only get to speak to a computer, never a person. That is yet another damning sign, according to Tong.

“Communication and service are paramount – especially if you’re time-poor.”

9. Suspect politics

Check that your bank aligns with your “moral compass”, says Tong. Your business might be wedded to green values or support a particular charity.

If your bank is out of kilter with your social charter, that could be a final reason to fire it.

10. Location location

Another oft-cited reason to leave is a lack of local branches and branded ATMs. You might prefer to move to a bank offering local convenience. Save time and petrol, and remove the frustration of having to drive by several rival banks to get to yours.

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