Everyone looks to their bank for different reasons.
But how do you find the right bank? It depends, but consumers should consider their long-term personal and financial goals, according to Dave Mallett, president and CEO of Ohio State Bank in Bexley; Charles Payton, business development officer at Peoples Bank in Beachwood; and Sandy Zimmerman, central Ohio market manager at PNC Bank in Columbus.
“Choosing the right bank is more important than ever,” Zimmerman said. “Banking has changed a lot over the years and choosing the right bank is a personal choice based on your need.”
There some things consumers should consider, Zimmerman explained. Firstly, align with a bank that takes your health and well-being seriously, especially now.
“That means customers can schedule an appointment online or by phone,” Zimmerman said. “That leads into a big one, knowing that the bank makes an ongoing investment on making banking easy. You want a bank that can evolve and continue to evolve as needs change.”
But not all banks are made the same. The bank down the road may be enough in terms of proximity, but other aspects set banks apart. According to Payton, defining factors make a difference.
“Some banks have something they do better or stronger than others,” he noted. “Some are more business driven and cater to business clients. Some are more investment driven, so their strong suit is there. All banks try to have that balance, but the fact is some are stronger.”
For example, Peoples Bank focuses on being involved in the community, which directly is referenced in the bank’s name. Saying Peoples Bank is for the “everyday person,” Payton said its success lies in the togetherness and family-based approach, especially during the pandemic.
“(Banks) have to differentiate themselves because the market is so saturated with options,” he stated. “We do that with community involvement and offering services you might not get with a bigger institution.”
Mallett said banks differentiating themselves helps them remain competitive. At Ohio State Bank, they do this by offering “competitive rates,” not only for deposits but also for mortgages, commercial loans and retail loans.
“We’ve been through so many decades of banking, so we know how to get things done,” Mallett explained. “But that is what’s important. If you can execute competitive products, they’ll come back and tell their friends. That is vital for any small bank.”
As banking changes, Zimmerman explained banks need to do the same. When banks keep up to date with societal needs, that matters to those struggling to find the right one.
“If the bank down the street doesn’t offer the things (you need) in the long term, it probably won’t be the best choice,” she said. “But let’s face it, all banks offer checking and savings accounts. Beyond that, there is more to it. At PNC, we have the virtual wallet checking account. It features a saving and budgeting tool. So, yes it is a checking account, but it also meets the needs of customers, no matter their stage of life.”
Zimmerman added PNC works to partner with the communities they serve, too. With that added component, it allows them to be more visible in communities and help potential customers find what they’re looking for. For example, PNC’s Grow Up Great Program is an initiative started in 2004 to help prepare children for success in school and life.
“Everything we do in the community aligns with who we are as a bank,” Zimmerman said.
After determining what matters most to you, choosing the right bank is even more personal. But if it feels right, it probably is.
“If they don’t have to think about their bank every day, it must be OK,” Mallett stated. “I don’t think about my bank. I get what I need and that is probably a good benchmark. If you get what you need and you don’t worry about it, that is good.”
It doesn’t hurt to weigh the pros and cons either, Payton added.
“I would say that you should research the bank, making sure you always have a couple of choices to think on,” he explained. “But it boils down to which one promotes your values. Sometimes convenience is a factor, but it is really about the services of that particular bank and the needs of the client – and their ability to meet those needs.”