Growing up I was fortunate enough to have hardworking parents that showed me the importance of being financially fit. The most important thing they taught me was how to avoid credit card debt. I learned to never spend money with a credit card that couldn’t be paid back at the end of the month.
Their advice was effective, but I never thought it would lead me to a career in the financial service industry. Soon after college I found myself working at a brick-and-mortar bank, which lasted for 10 years. I learned a lot about banking and enjoyed helping customers when I could. One thing I realized very quickly is not everyone has a warm and fuzzy feeling towards their bank.
Fees Fuel The Fire
The majority of the time those negative feelings were ignited by the charging of fees. Fees are as old as banking, but recently banks have been finding more ways to apply them. Over the years I found myself doing a lot of damage control on behalf of the bank to keep disgruntled customers from leaving. On the inside I sympathized with customers that were paying too much in fees, because they were usually the ones that could least afford it.
Some of the most used banks in our country continue to use complicated and confusing terms to go on and collect billions in checking fees. This lack of transparency is an obstacle for those trying to find an alternative institution that may be better suited for their needs. The result leaves customers with a negative outlook towards all banks, and pessimistic about their chances for finding a better option.
The Problem I See
The problem is I was never trained at the bank to proactively inform or educate customers about potential fees to avoid. Instead my job was to explain why they were charged a fee after it happened, which never went over well. The unfortunate reality is brick-and-mortar bank fees are not going away anytime soon for consumers.
To me financial health means being able to make the right decisions to increase your savings. In order for this to happen I think more transparency and education is needed to help consumers make better decisions. Everyone wants to save more money and become financially stable in their lives. Financial information that is accessible and easy to understand gives consumers the best opportunity to achieve just that.
My personal experience of working in the banking industry has driven me to improve the financial health of others. Through education and awareness I plan on benefiting those consumers that are effected by the rising cost of fees, and looking for a better option. It’s my goal to connect consumers to affordable financial institutions through upfront transparency.
by Ben Premo – Founder of TrueFees