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Selecting the right bank for you

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Selecting the right bank for you

Opening a bank account is a simple job. There are many banks where you can open an account. The question is how to decide the bank where you can open the account. You may be opening an account for the first time or maybe opening an additional account. In either case, you will need to put some thought into it to find the bank that offers the best services to fit your needs.

You will need to look at the financial aspects involved. Banks charge you for the services provided. You will want to look for a bank that has the most competitive charges. This doesn’t mean that you use fees alone as the criteria to select a bank, but it should be considered before opting to bank there.

The following are the criteria or factors that you can consider before selecting a bank.

  1. Your needs today and for the future

This is the first criteria to consider while selecting a bank. What areyour expectations from the bank? Do you want a bank account where only your paycheck would be deposited every month? Do you want a bank account to avail of services like deposits? The answers to these questions will help you decide on a bank. Apart from your needs for today, you also need to keep in mind the needs for the future.

It is possible that you commence a business. Can the bank help you open a business account? Can you get an overdraft when you need it? Does the bank offer services beneficial for a business? You would need to get the answers to these questions to help you take a decision. It is possible that you may physically shift your place of residence or work, in which case you would want to change the bank. You need to consider whether the bank offers a facility to transfer your account to another branch.

Apart from this, you would also want to consider their online services or mobile banking services. This is convenient as you don’t have to visit the bank. You can carry out all your transactions from the comfort of your home. The trend today favors online and mobile banking. These are the aspects related to your present and future needs that can help you decide a bank to open an account. You need to find out if the bank offers all that you need.

  1. Fees and charges

Banks charge fees for their services. Once you know what services you want from a bank, the next thing is to look at the fees charged. When you open a bank account, the bank would charge you an annual/monthly fee. Different banks charge different fees. The big banks would naturally charge higher fees. This is because they offer a larger bouquet of services. There are also online banks that do most of the work through the internet. Since they don’t have expenditure on running a branch, they offer a lower fee.

You would be justified in expecting a lower fee for a savings or checking account. When the annual or monthly fee is high, you can consider a bank that charges a lower rate. The only reason why you should be willing to pay a higher fee is if the bank offers additional services that you need. Apart from the monthly fee, the charges for overdraft should also be considered. If you plan to use overdraft facility, then you would need to select a bank that charges you lesser fees for using overdraft facility.

Banks also charge fees for various transactions carried out. They may charge a fee for bank transfers. Fees may also be charged for issuing checkbooks. Fees may be charged for ATM usage. You need to consider all these fees before taking a decision. You can first shortlist a few banks based on the services you need. You can then make a comparative chart listing out the charges for all the services, including maintenance charges. This will help you make a decision easily.

  1. Rates offered by the bank

Apart from the charges levied by the bank, there are also the rates that the bank offer. When you open a savings account in a bank, the bank would pay you interest.  It would not be much, but it does matter. Similarly, when you deposit money and get a certificate of deposit, you would be paid interest on it. This is one of the investment options where you can earn returns. You can consider these rates also before deciding on where to open an account.

However, if you are not planning to obtain a certificate of deposit then you need not give too much importance to this. Similarly, the fees charged are more significant than the interest paid on savings accounts. If you need to choose between a bank that offers a higher savings interest and a bank that charges a lower monthly fee, you would do well to choose the bank charging a lower fee. The difference in savings interest is hardly significant. The maintenance charges would matter more.

  1. Access to bank branches and ATMs

If you enjoy going to the branch or using the ATM this is going to be a primary concern for you.If this is the case, then you may prefer opening an account with a bank that has branches convenient for you to visit. If you visit ATMs to withdraw or deposit funds than the bank you select should have a network of ATMs that would be convenient for you. You should open an account with a bank that allows you access to its branches and ATMs in a convenient way.

  1. Is your money safe?

When you open a bank account and deposit your money, you would expect safety. The safety of the money you deposit should be covered under insurance. In the US, the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) secures the deposits of banks. If you prefer to open an account with a credit union, then it should be backed by the NCUA (National Credit Union Administration). Such a backing guarantees that your deposit will be safe.

Do not open an account in a bank or credit union that does not have such backing. You can visit the websites of these institutions to get a list of banks that are insured. Check if the bank where you wish to open an account is listed or not.

  1. Are investment options available?

As discussed above, you can deposit money to get a certificate of deposit that earns you interest for a period of time. While the interest rates offered by banks are not very high, it is a risk-free investment. Banks also offer other investment services. This includes opening a retirement account where you can save money for your retirement. You can even buy mutual funds through your bank. These investments can be made in any bank of your choice. It would be convenient if you could do all your banking related operations in one bank.

That is the reason why you need to find out if your bank offers these services. When you wish to avail of value added services of banks, you would be required to maintain a higher sum of money as your account balance. There are additional charges for using these services. You need to consider all these before deciding which bank to go with.

  1. Is the bank technology-enabled?

The bank where you open an account should make use of technology to offer you internet banking and mobile banking. Banking using your computer or mobile is easy and convenient. Most banks offer this facility for customers. Confirm if the bank or credit union you have shortlisted offers these services. You also need to check if the services are free or if you would need to pay money to use the services.

Some banks even allow you to deposit checks by sending its photograph if you are in some other location. If you need such a service, you can enquire if the bank offers it. Most banks send you alerts to your mobile phones. This will ensure you are updated on all the transactions happening in your account. Do check if the bank offers this service and if you would be charged for it.

  1. Customer service provided

Customer service is a very important activity in all customer-driven organizations, including banks. The bank of your choice should have a customer service team that can help you with any problems or address your queries. Customer service centers would be available on call 24/7. They would also have online chat options for you to answer your queries and solve your problems.  In case you have a complaint, you need to know what the mechanism of the bank is to accept and resolve your complaint.

  1. Bank timings

When you bank through the internet, the bank is open for you 24/7. Branches work only for a specific time duration every day. Some banks keep their branches open in the evenings. This would be useful for working people who do not get time in the day hours to visit the bank. You can give a higher weightage to the bank that offers such a facility. If you wish to deposit cash, you may need to visit the branch. This would be difficult if you do not have time during the bank working hours. Find out if you can deposit cash at the bank’s ATM. This facility would be convenient if you have a requirement of depositing cash.

Now that you are clear with the criteria to select a bank, it is time to take a quick look at the type of banks where you can open an account. They include:

  1. National and International banks: These are banks that have branches all over the country and across the world. These banks are large and offer a variety of services to cater to all needs of customers. They also would have multiple branches and ATMs for you to access. They would usually charge higher fees. The rates they offer on deposits tend to be less.
  2. Local banks: These are smaller banks operating at the state or county level. They may have just one branch or more than one in a small geographical area. They would offer all the services that are generally expected from banks. They would have limited number of ATMs and branches. The fees they charge would be on the higher side, but the rates on deposits would be reasonable.
  3. Credit unions: These are community-oriented banks that usually operate on a non-profit basis. They offer all the basic services. They usually charge lesser fees from customers. They also pay more interest on deposits. Most credit unions are part of a network and hence you can access ATMs belonging to other credit unions too.
  4. Online banks: These banks don’t have branches and work only online. They offer limited products, charge a very less fee, and offer higher interest rates. They usually do not have ATMs but allow you to use ATMs of other banks at a fee.

A bank account gives you access to many services, including access to investment products. Before opening a bank account, it would be advisable to spend some time evaluating banks based on the criteria discussed. Compare the services and the fees/charges, before you decide where to open your account.

Banking

‘Act big’ now to save economy, worry about debt later, Yellen says in Treasury testimony

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'Act big' now to save economy, worry about debt later, Yellen says in Treasury testimony 1

By David Lawder and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Janet Yellen, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, urged lawmakers on Tuesday to “act big” on coronavirus relief spending, arguing that the economic benefits far outweigh the risks of a higher debt burden.

In more than three hours of confirmation hearing testimony, the former Federal Reserve chair laid out a vision of a more muscular Treasury that would act aggressively to reduce economic inequality, fight climate change and counter China’s unfair trade and subsidy practices.

Taxes on corporations and the wealthy will eventually need to rise to help finance Biden’s ambitious plans for investing in infrastructure, research and development, and for worker training to improve the U.S. economy’s competitiveness, she told members of the Senate Finance Committee.

But that would only come after reining in the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over 400,000 in the United States, and the economic devastation it brought.

Yellen, who spoke by video link, said her task as Treasury chief will be to help Americans endure the final months of the pandemic as the population is vaccinated, and rebuild the economy to make it more competitive and create more prosperity and more jobs.

“Without further action we risk a longer, more painful recession now and longer-term scarring of the economy later,” she said.

Yellen said pandemic relief would take priority over tax increases, but corporations and the wealthy, which both benefited from 2017 Republican tax cuts “need to pay their fair share.”

She raised eyebrows of some senators and Wall Street when she said that Treasury would consider the possibility of taxing unrealized capital gains – through a “mark-to-market” mechanism – as well as other approaches to boost revenues.

DEBT BURDEN

She also that the value of the dollar should be determined by markets, a break from departing President Donald Trump’s desire for a weaker U.S. currency.

“The United States does not seek a weaker currency to gain competitive advantage and we should oppose attempts by other countries to do so,” she said.

Wall Street stocks rose on Tuesday in reaction to Yellen’s call for a hefty stimulus package, as well as to positive bank earnings updates. Oil prices also rose, while Treasury yields fell slightly on her comments that parts of the 2017 tax reform should be repealed.

Biden, who will be sworn into office on Wednesday, outlined a $1.9 trillion stimulus package proposal last week, saying bold investment was needed to jump-start the economy and accelerate the distribution of vaccines to bring the virus under control.

Asked what outlays would provide the biggest “bang for the buck,” Yellen said spending on public health and widespread vaccinations was the first step. Extended unemployment and nutrition aid, better known as food stamps, should be next, she said.

“Neither the president-elect, nor I, propose this relief package without an appreciation for the country’s debt burden. But right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big,” Yellen said.

She said even though the amount of debt relative to the economy has risen, the interest burden – the amount the Treasury pays to service its debt – has not, due to lower interest rates. She said she will watch that metric closely as the economy recovers.

NEW CLIMATE POST AT TREASURY

Yellen also called climate change an “existential threat” to the U.S. economy and said she would appoint a senior official at Treasury to oversee the issue and assess systemic risks it poses to the financial system.

She added investment in clean technologies and electric vehicles was needed to cut carbon emissions, keep the U.S. economy competitive and provide good jobs for American workers.

Yellen said China was the most important strategic competitor of the United States and underscored the determination of the Biden administration to crack down on what she called China’s “abusive, unfair and illegal practices.”

Asked whether China had committed “genocide” in its treatment of Muslim Uighurs as the Trump administration declared in a last-minute proclamation, Yellen said China is “guilty of horrendous human rights abuses, yes.”

Biden’s transition team urged the Senate to move swiftly to confirm Yellen. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, who will lead the Finance Committee after Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, said he would push for a confirmation vote on Thursday. Republican Senator Mike Crapo said he would work towards an “expeditious” confirmation for Yellen.

She also received the endorsement of all former Treasury secretaries, from George Schultz to Jack Lew, who urged senators in a letter to swiftly confirm Yellen’s nomination to avoid “setting back recovery efforts.” A spokeswoman for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who steps down on Wednesday, did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by David Lawder, Andrea Shalal, Ann Saphir and David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Heather Timmons, Andrea Ricci and Kim Coghill)

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Banking

Open Banking: the perfect pandemic tool – Equifax comments

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How the application network unlocks open banking’s future

With COVID-19 related financial fallout set to dominate the credit landscape in 2021, Dan Weaver, Open Banking Expert at Equifax UK, believes Open Banking solutions can provide lenders clarity in a sea of uncertainty: 

“With lockdown once again in place across the UK, it’s clear 2021 will be a year of extreme financial flux. While the vaccine roll-out programme will provide an economic boost and eventual easing of restrictions, forbearance measures, such as mortgage holidays and the government furlough scheme, will be wound down. This will lead to income shocks for many, and the potential for a nationwide surge in personal debt.

“With the third anniversary of its implementation today (13 January), Open Banking is entering a new mature phase of its development. The initiative’s credentials are now widely established, offering creditors the perfect pandemic tool to assess the most accurate picture of an individual’s finances.

“Consider someone who has just returned to the workforce after being made redundant or placed on furlough. Traditional credit bureau or legacy data alone would not always provide potential lenders with the most up-to-date information on their current financial circumstances and ability to repay credit at the point of application. Open Banking platforms, through customer consent, pull live data directly from the user’s bank account, allowing creditors to make an informed, responsible and fair decision about their current affordability on the most recent data available – a game-changing factor amid such widespread financial upheaval and rapid change in people’s circumstances.

“Open Banking is a tool for our times and it’s vital more credit providers, not just big banks and finance but utilities, insurance, auto and telcos companies, accelerate its adoption. Throughout our society and economy in the past year, we’ve witnessed feats of great innovation, executed at rapid speed. In 2021, we need to apply this transformational energy to the Open Banking landscape, slashing the time it takes for creditors to test protocol and fully set up their solutions.

“Three years after its arrival, we’re seeing Open Banking platforms improve digital, real-time income verification rates by more than 25% * – which is no mean feat. If an industry-wide, mass acceleration strategy was successfully achieved in 2021, it would prove extremely valuable and timely, and lead to better customer and creditor outcomes throughout the credit space.”

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Banking

Over a quarter of Brits now have an account with a digital-only bank

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Over a quarter of Brits now have an account with a digital-only bank 2

Over a quarter of Brits now have an account with a digital-only bank 3 The number of Brits with a digital-only bank account has gone up by a percentage increase of 16%

Over a quarter of Brits now have an account with a digital-only bank 4 Almost 1 in 6 Brits (17%) plan to open a digital bank account over the next 5 years

Over a quarter of Brits now have an account with a digital-only bank 5 The top reason for opening an account was the convenience of banking online for the third year running

Over a quarter of Brits now have an account with a digital-only bank 5However, 16% of traditional banking customers who aren’t planning to switch said their bank had been helpful during the COVID pandemic

Currently over a quarter of Brits (27%) say they have at least one bank account with a digital-only bank, according to personal finance comparison site finder.com.

This is a percentage increase of 16% from last year when 23% of Brits said they had an account with a digital bank. It is also over 3 times the amount of Brits who had one in January 2019 (9%).

Finder’s 2019 research found that 24% of Brits intended to have a digital-only account by 2024. However with 27% now having an account, Brits have gone digital 3 years earlier than expected.

A further 17% of Brits intend to join them over the next 5 years, with 11% planning to do so over the next year. This could mean that 44% of Brits could have an account with a digital bank by 2026. If this percentage were applied to the UK adult population, it would equal almost 23 million people.

The top reason for opening an account continues to be convenience that digital-only banks provide, for the third year running (26%). The second most common reason was that users needed an additional account and setting up a digital account seemed to be the easiest option (20%). Customers also wanted to transfer money more easily (19%), making this the third biggest priority.

People wanting a trendy card is still driving signups as well, with 1 in 10 (10%) existing, or future, customers citing this as a reason to get an account.

Despite the increase in digital-only banking customers, the numbers who aren’t considering one have actually risen. Last year, 23% of respondents said they aren’t considering a digital-only bank account, but this has risen substantially to 42% in the latest survey.

This is likely a result of increased customer loyalty, 58% of those without a digital bank account said they felt as though their incumbent bank had treated them well and therefore had no desire to open a digital bank account. Additionally, 16% felt as though their incumbent bank had performed particularly well during the pandemic.

Over a third (36%) of those without a digital bank account said they had not decided to bank with digital providers because they preferred to be able to speak to someone in branch.

Digital banks are still most popular with younger generations, 46% of gen Z say they currently have a digital bank account, with a further 28% intending to get one over the next 5 years. This would mean that by 2026 just under three quarters of gen Z (73%) could have a digital bank account.

To see the research in full visit: https://www.finder.com/uk/digital-banking-adoption

Commenting on the findings, Matt Boyle, banking specialist  at finder.com said:

“This research shows that digital-only banks are here to stay, with the number of users in the UK rising for 3 years straight. On top of this, Starling and Revolut announced this year that they have made a profit for the first time, really demonstrating that digital banks are starting to become a serious part of the banking furniture.

“The pandemic has also played a role in the rapid digitalisation of the banking industry, with those who had never experienced online banking having no other choice but to take their finances online. It seems that Brits are starting to realise the convenience that can come with digital banking and this is reflected in our research.”

Methodology:

Finder commissioned Censuswide on 6 to 8 January 2021 to carry out a nationally representative survey of adults aged 18+. A total of 1,671 people were questioned throughout Great Britain, with representative quotas for gender, age and region

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