Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Strange but true -- bankers can help you

Had an interesting conversation with a finance-minded friend of mine this past weekend.

Like most Canadians, I have a natural distaste for Canadian banks. Don't get me wrong -- as an owner, I love them for the profit-making machines they are. But as a consumer and citizen, it doesn't take very many TV ads trying to trick yuppies into buying a house they can't afford, or conning Boomers by showing how happy the grandkids would be if they'd only take the plunge and finally get that palatial Muskoka cottage to bring my blood to a slow simmer.

Combine my natural aversion to them with the fact that online banking is so prevalent these days, and the result is what it is -- I don't think I've actually stepped up to a teller at a bank branch in a couple of years.

That might be costing me money, my friend informed me over a pint last weekend. "Go down and meet with a banker," he suggested, because they can actually do some good things for you. He said his decision to meet with a banker a few years ago was one of the best decisions he's ever made. Once he opened up about all his debts, all his assets, and discussed what his financial goals were -- everything from home ownership to estate planning, the banker formulated some semblance of a long-term plan, and actually helped it along somewhat by cutting out expenses and maximizing returns in places along the way.

He's now in the market for a house, and he says he's getting mortgage offers well below the posted rates and has fees waived for all sorts of services.

The idea, I think, is that if you grant someone access to every level of yoru financial life, they can occasionally surprise you by coming up with plans and options to make it all happen.

Given how bankers make their money (hint: rhymes with bees) I'm somewhat skeptical of his claims, but I must admit I'm intrigued. I'm curious -- for all we hear that bankers are just in it for the money, does anybody out there have any truly good stories to tell about how bankers have really helped them?


George W. said...

Banks are in business to make money, just like any other business. Most bankers get paid a salary and do their best to give their customers good service.

I'd still take their advice with a big grain of salt, but that doesn't mean they aren't a good resource.

Anonymous said...

I have 2! First a branch manager at CIBC helped me when i failed to transfer funds for my first house and the cheque bounced like a basketball!

Second when i wanted a good mortgage rate and a large line of credit for investing the lady at Scotia was more than helpful.


strange but true said...

I don't know whether banks do this the world over but what hacks me off about UK banks is their ability to hold on to money for three days - in transit - when you make/receive an on-line payment.
Everybody knows it's crooked but still they do it...