Sleeping with the enemy -- should I bother switching banks?
March 11, 2014 5:44 PM   Subscribe

I was recently hired at a big commercial bank, but I personally bank at another. Should I make the switch? Does it even matter?

I have kept my account at my current bank primarily because: 1.) I've had it forever; 2.) My family uses the same one (any transferring of funds is easier); 3.) I have a long-term loan with my current bank, which makes payments much more convenient especially with auto-pay turned on (along with other bills I have); 4.) I'm not required to pay a monthly maintenance fee at my bank because I have a college student account, which I've been told I could keep even when I graduate. Maintenance fees aren't that bad...I just like holding onto everything I can. :)

Also, it feels odd that I work for a competing bank and offer their products to customers because my sales pitches don't feel as genuine as they could be if I had the firsthand experience to support them. I'm sure this comes off as a no-brainer, but I'm a young adult still treading the grown-up world and I'm interested in the responses. Is it worth the switch despite my reasons?
posted by HiphopAnonymous to Work & Money (24 answers total)
20 years ago, I worked with a guy who had worked in banking. This might not be true any more, but he told me that banks usually had one of two policies:

1) You are not allowed to have any accounts at any other bank - on the theory that it's a convenient place to stash ill-gotten gains.

2) You are not allowed to have any accounts at your bank - on the theory that it makes it harder to steal from the bank.

You might want to see if either of these applies to you.

(There was also the mandatory two-week vacation every year, with no access to the bank allowed, to see if there was anything you were hiding from them.)
posted by Hatashran at 5:49 PM on March 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Have you looked into what accounts you are eligible for at the new bank? As an employee you may be eligible for some special rates.

However, your reasons for banking at your bank sound compelling - for you, and your unique circumstances. You can recognize that and also recognize and communicate how your employer's services may be able to meet a certain customer's needs.

I have been working at various financial institutions for several years. I have never been required to switch my accounts.
posted by bunderful at 5:55 PM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The benefits you mentioned of staying with your current bank are substantial and worth keeping. You would especially regret no longer having them if you left the bank where you currently work.
posted by Dansaman at 6:09 PM on March 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

So, not quite the same, but similar. I work for an insurance company, and I don't feel compelled to have my insurance with them for Reasons. Your reasons are fine, I wouldn't bother switching.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 6:10 PM on March 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Change to your new bank. If it's a pain, tell them about your experience. Get to know what it is like to deal with your new employer. Employees of a bank should get free banking. Difficulties in making the switch is no excuse. Become part of the team.
posted by Old Timer at 6:10 PM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't see why it should matter.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:23 PM on March 11, 2014

I don't think it matters that much, but if it makes you feel funny not having an account at the bank you work for, why not just open up a second account?
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 6:27 PM on March 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm a young adult still treading the grown-up world

I'm 52, and I wouldn't even contemplate switching banks unless my shiny new employer gave me truly compelling incentives to do so. And by "incentives" I mean the kind of truly attractive rates and conditions, not dependent on my employment with them, that I would be genuinely happy to pitch to other prospective customers - not any kind of "team player" psychological pressure; the latter I would read as a red flag for toxic workplace culture and actively start looking for work elsewhere.

Your relationship with your old bank as its customer should be completely irrelevant to your relationship with your new bank as its employee. These are business relationships, not personal relationships, regardless of how much Marketing would like you to embrace the lie that those are the same thing.
posted by flabdablet at 6:28 PM on March 11, 2014 [8 favorites]

If the bank you work at insists you get an account there and offers a free one, there's no harm in having this account as well as long as you are not paying for it.
posted by jeather at 6:31 PM on March 11, 2014

Best answer: Just because you are an employee at a company does not mean you need to be a customer as well. That is your private business.
posted by Vaike at 6:37 PM on March 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

I would be concerned about the privacy of my financial information and if any immature coworkers thought it would be a good idea to be nosy. I would definitely not switch.
posted by studioaudience at 6:43 PM on March 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

I switched to the bank I work with because of some useful perks, like waived fees for other bank's ATM's and refunds of some overdraft fees. And there's a nice feeling knowing that if I have any problems or unauthorized charges, that I know who to go for fixes and that they'll look out for me. I'm mostly away from a customer contact position, but it is also useful to know how our Billpay system works from personal knowledge.

However, I have many co-workers who absolutely will NOT bank with us because they worry about privacy issues. Lots of people might know when you're overdrawn, they may see your balance and direct deposits, and maybe your credit rating. In the worst case, they'll know if you have a bankruptcy or a restraint on your account. And that's not even counting if someone is snooping on purpose. Your bank may have some safeguards to restrict access to employee accounts, but it's not going to apply to everyone.
posted by saffry at 6:51 PM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
posted by limeonaire at 6:54 PM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

It is not binary. You can have accounts at both banks. Have your paycheck auto deposit into new bank, then either ACH the funds to your old bank or write yourself a check. You learn the ins and outs of new bank's accounts to help your selling and to be able to say you bank their too, and you keep your old deal.

Having said that, if your new employer required it or it was an unwritten 'rule', they would have told you by now.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:08 PM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I worked with a major bank for a few years, and the only thing they required me to do was to tell them if I ever had any investment accounts at any other bank. As for checking, savings, and loans and credit cards, they didn't care.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:44 PM on March 11, 2014

Best answer: What you do with your money is nobody's business but your own. Do you think Toyota employees don't get to drive BMWs, or that McDonalds employees don't get to eat at Burger King?
posted by oceanjesse at 8:58 PM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

My wife works for a bank so we're hooked up with the Rich People Checking (the interest-earning checking with all the goodies they don't even tell you about if you're not in the Rich People tier). But it was absolutely not required.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:35 PM on March 11, 2014

If it were the sort of thing that would be a conflict of interest, someone would have brought up the subject by now.
posted by ADave at 9:58 PM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ex-bank employee putting in her two cents (teehee).
In addition to my free employee account at my former employer, I've had an account at a bank which wasn't the bank I worked for, plus credit cards and mortgages at yet more different banks... so I've never completely switched banks. My former employer has always put out the question: "Would you recommend XYZ Bank's offerings to your friends and family?" on their employee surveys and solicited staff feedback on how effective their offerings are at reaching out to people.

Seconding that, conceptually, where you bank shouldn't be anyone's business but your own and you can decide whether, say, your existing bank may offer cheaper mortgage rates than your employer, or some completely different bank may have better returns on investment...
posted by Tsukushi at 4:18 AM on March 12, 2014

I'd keep your current account, but open one at your bank and have your check direct deposited into it. You can then write a check and deposit your dough into your regular bank.

Chances are you won't have to pay anything for your checking account at your employer bank, and this way you can experience your bank's services first hand.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:08 AM on March 12, 2014

I really don't see why it's your employer's business where you bank.

I work for a large company that sells a product I am legally required to purchase. My personal financial decisions are based on what is best for me, so I went with a competitor for many years. At the time, my employer was not the best option available to me. For others, it was.
posted by inertia at 10:07 AM on March 12, 2014

I don't see any reason you should switch, but there's more than one solution to this:

my sales pitches don't feel as genuine as they could be if I had the firsthand experience to support them

You can open a small account where you work. Leave all your existing accounts as they are.
posted by yohko at 3:22 PM on March 12, 2014

Mrs. bluejayway is a banker. We have accounts at several banks, including the one she works for. Her bank offers employees fee-free checking, which is nice. They also have special rates for mortgages (not the best in town, but maybe better than we can get at some other places), and having a checking account at the bank that handles your mortgage makes certain things easier.

No need at all to drop your accounts at other banks.
posted by bluejayway at 4:03 PM on March 12, 2014

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