Sometimes I wonder why I don't take a more active role in managing my money. Now I know the answer: I hate my bank. Is it just me or would you also rather undergo a root canal than have to sit down with a "professional" at your financial institution?
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My clarity came to me as I was trying to open a SEP IRA before the deadline for tax year 2010. I walked into my local bank, which I'll call Incompetence Inc., and was put through a thorough interrogation on what I do for a living and what publications I work for - by not one but two employees. (Not that it's any of their business.)
So while I'm paying a babysitter $20 an hour to watch my kids, I discover that my bank's "investment specialist" doesn't know the difference between a traditional mutual fund and an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF). In fact, no one at my branch actually knows what my investment options are - or what fees I will incur.
After learning that Incompetence Inc. is going to charge me more than $25 to buy a mutual fund, I decide to put my contribution into a money market fund until I get a chance to roll the account over to another bank. But just as I was making my escape, I was confronted and tortured by a so-called "small business expert" - who wanted to upsell me to another new account. (The account was free, but I have to wonder what creative fees the bank would eventually charge me.)
To be fair, when it comes to disliking my financial institutions, I'm an equal opportunity hater. I also find the folks who manage an investment account I inherited entirely distasteful. In meetings they won't even call me by name, instead they simply refer to my older sister and me - both adults, both professionals - as "The Girls." What they really should be doing is apologizing for lagging the market and overcharging me for their ineptitude.
I would move the money if only the trustee would allow it. Instead I'm reduced to venting to you, dear reader. So please tell me that I am not alone. Got any horror stories that will make me feel better? Or even better: Have you actually found a bank that offers you a high level of service and expertise? Please sign in below and let me know. I might just be in the market for a change.Stacey Bradford is the author of The Wall Street Journal Financial Guidebook for New Parents
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