Chances are a good number of us spend as much time deciding what to eat for lunch as we do picking out a bank.
Research shows 48% of Americans say they want to be financially prepared, yet 97% aren’t taking the time to do so.1 Perhaps this is because there are so many banking choices. Choice is good but it also requires time to evaluate the landscape, weigh the pros and cons of different types of banks, and choose the one that best fits your particular needs.
We’d like to offer you a shortcut through this process because chances are pretty good a regional community bank will cover all your needs – even as you venture through life’s many stages. The right regional bank will offer the same financial services and products you would find at a national bank yet deliver them with the comfort and familiarity of a small-town lender.
Regional banks are bigger than community banks but smaller than national banks, with an asset range of $10 billion to $100 billion.2 Some local banks are limited to one community, while a regional bank can operate branches across a few states and have history in each community. Their bankers may live in your neighborhood and shop at the same supermarket; they may even coach the local soccer team.
This “in-between” status means regional banks provide many of the benefits of national and local banks in one package. They offer a deep portfolio of national-bank services – from standard checking to advanced investment advice – while also developing and maintaining the personal relationships that make local banking attractive.
In short, regional banks have roots in the communities in which they do business. So, what does that look like for customers on a day-to-day basis?
Branch and ATM access: Regional banks generally operate a sizeable network of branches, many inherited through bank acquisitions, so one is never far away. Further, in addition to their branch ATMs, regional banks typically align with other ATM networks to assure the same access one would find with a national bank. A regional bank usually has in-network ATMs available even if you’re traveling outside of the U.S.
Technology: Regional banks understand your need to be on the go. They not only use their financial resources and talent to develop advanced tech banking services; their size affords them the agility to roll out quickly. From mobile deposits to digital person-to-person transfers, most services conducted in a branch should be easily do-able through a mobile app or on a laptop.
Rates and fees: Regional banks, because of their flexibility, usually can give their clients highly competitive rates. Across key products – savings, money markets accounts, and CDs – regional banks can even outperform small banks.3 And because they compete with both large banks and community lenders, their fees will likely be equally competitive.
Breadth of financial services and products: Regional banks, due to their size range, will likely manage a suite of investment products and services as comprehensive as those at their national competitors. Yet they can deliver them with more personalized attention. Chances are, you’ll find all your needs met through all stages of life, from high school savings to retirement planning.
Community involvement: Their unique combination of size and localized roots allows regional banks to play a natural, substantial role in supporting the communities they serve. For example, they may invest in the region's charities, schools, and emerging communities, and it’s not uncommon to see regional bankers roll their sleeves up and volunteer in their neighborhoods.
But it’s not just contributions of funds and time – some regional banks are additionally involved in their communities through in-house financial literacy and wellness programs. These programs help their clients make better-informed life decisions for a better overall community.
In addition to these guidelines, the following questions will help you narrow down the best bank type for your unfolding lifestyle needs.
How long do you want to stay with the same bank?
If long-term, then consider a bank that offers services to meets growing needs.
Are you planning to make a major purchase in the next year or two, like a house?
You may want to research lending options, interest rates, and consumer ratings before choosing a bank. Do you want to know the banker who is processing your mortgage? If so, a regional bank may be a good bet.
Does your job require relocation or frequent travel?
If you plan to move or travel a lot, a bank with a network of branches or online services is likely the best fit.
Do you want help with financial services, such as investing?
Different banks offer investing service options, including certificates of deposit, money market accounts, and stock investing. If you plan to invest now or in the future, research what is available.
The definition of the “right” bank differs from person to person. By first determining goals and what is most important to you, you can choose the option that serves you best. Be among the 3% who take the time to be financially prepared.
1 “How Much Time Does the Average American Spend on Personal Finance?”, The Ascent, Oct. 11, 2019, https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/research/average-american-time-personal-finance/, accessed Nov. 2, 2020
2 “Community & Regional Financial Institutions,” Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, https://www.federalreserve.gov/supervisionreg/community-and-regional-financial-institutions.htm#:~:text=Community%20banks%20serve%20businesses%20and,%2410%20billion%20and%20%24100%20billion., Accessed Nov. 2, 2020
3 “Large Banks vs. Small Banks – Who Offers the Better Rates?”, By Sabrina Kari, Deposit Accounts, 2017, https://www.depositaccounts.com/blog/deposit-rates-institution-size-correlation.html, Accessed Nov. 2, 2020
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