Choosing the right financial institution to fit your needs

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — You can bank on the fact that almost everyone needs a bank or some kind of financial institution for their money, but one size doesn’t fit all.

There is no singular best bank–it all depends on your needs.

One thing to keep in mind is to avoid banks that charge unnecessary fees for things like savings or checking accounts.  The market for handling your money is getting more competitive, so customers can easily find a bank that doesn’t have many of those fees.  Online banks often have better rates as they have less overhead, but you don’t get the personal service.

“I was a first-time home buyer, so he kind of had to walk through everything with me.  My banker was a big help.  Because I was new to home buying, I really needed a lot of guidance and that’s exactly what I got here in Indianapolis,” said home buyer Graham Wilkerson.

Wilkerson chose Merchants Bank.  He said it was a smooth process and the people at the bank have always been very helpful.  The same was said from a customer who depended on the bank for his business needs.  Danny Portee’s company, Professional Management Enterprises, specializes in human capital support, information technology support and healthcare support.  They help business that are local and national.  He decided to change banks for the service and for his health.

“The large bank didn’t allow me to sleep comfortably because I was unsure that I was going to meet my clients’ expectations and deliverables from a funding perspective, but now I sleep with no problems,” said Portee.

Another tip when choosing a bank is to be careful of what sounds like a good deal.  Some institutions make money off you when you overdraft.  Check the fine print to see what you may have to pay and when, if you overdraft.

If it’s important to you, make sure you can get access to a bank or employee.  It’s often assumed young people just want to do everything on the internet, but recent surveys show they also want the ability to go into a bank to talk to someone who can answer their questions or fulfill their needs.

Don’t forget about credit unions.  In many cases, they can provide lower fees and loan rates.  Whatever place you pick, make sure your bank meets your needs.  If you need investment help, pick an institution that provides those services.

“We have found our customers like things to be simple and easy.  We make sure our financial processes are as quick and easy as possible and there’s a person to help you.  We realize it can be difficult to switch banks, so we make that very easy here at Merchants Bank.  We even set up all your online payees and to us, we’re bringing a branch to you,” said Mike Dunlap, president of Merchants Bank of Indiana.

It’s no fun reading the fine print that banks provide, but it’s vital to understanding the fees you may have to pay and the benefits you’ll receive.  That includes such things as ATM fees from your branch or another.  Some banks and some clients don’t have to pay when using other banks ATMs, so check if that’s important to you.  Also, shop around online and consider rates and fees, but also consider service.

“Service is very important to me.  With my bank that’s not a problem.  I feel like a real person, not a number.  My banker actually asks me about my business, where we are going and even asks me detailed question to help my business grow,” said Portee.

If a personal relationship with a banker is important to you, make sure that’s offered.

“I feel like I’m a real person, from an application perspective as well.  Their process was totally different versus from just checking my credit score.  They looked at the total business, the total person and my credit score,” said Portee.

Whichever bank you’re thinking about, check with friends, family, business owners and listen to their experiences.  It’s also important to compare their rates for loans or investments.  If speed and convenience is something you value, don’t forget to investigate if that’s something a prospective institution values as well.

“As a first-time home buyer, I wanted to avoid as much of the paperwork as possible.  I received an email with our electronic documents and I filled out my mortgage application on my phone.  And then we were able to go to closing and we finished in under a half hour,” said Wilkerson.

Money, rates, and time are all keys components when choosing where your money will go.

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