(BPT) - When choosing a financial institution, it’s important to think beyond credit cards and home loans. You want your bank or credit union to be there for you when you need them, wherever you need them, because that’s what peace of mind is all about. So seek out a trusted organization that really cares about you, and if you’re being taken care of, you can rest easy knowing that your bottom line — not just theirs — is also being taken care of.
So how do you know they care? Here are five tell-tale signs.
They’re “there” anytime, anywhere.
When you need support, you need it. It doesn’t have to always be an emergency situation, but isn’t it nice to know even at 3 a.m. you could talk to someone about your credit card’s APR if you really needed to?
You should have options when it comes to handling your finances. Visit a branch, go online, call or use your phone — whichever works best for you. Having the confidence in any situation that your financial institution can support your lifestyle with 24/7 customer service and mobile banking is priceless.
Someone else says they care.
There’s nothing like third-party validation. It’s non-biased and can give you a sense for what a financial institution is actually known for. You wouldn’t trust a bank with your home loan just because it won an award for “Best Parking” now, would you? Hopefully not. So instead, look for awards from reputable organizations that highlight aspects of banking, such as best in banking or superior customer service or anything else that’s directly relatable to the services that are provided to you.
Take for example Navy Federal Credit Union — a credit union serving the men and women in uniform. In addition to being a FORTUNE Magazine top place to work for five consecutive years, the credit union was recently ranked first in the Full-Service Banking category according to the Forrester Research report, The US Customer Experience Index, 2016. As Navy Federal President and CEO Cutler Dawson puts it, “We’re number one because we make our members number one.” And that makes sense — happy employees equals happy customers.
Service comes before selling.
When you’re with a financial institution that puts you first, you can trust that your financial well-being takes precedence over pushing products and services. Case in point: you don’t want to end up with a loan or mortgage you can’t afford. “Every homeowner's scenario is unique and complex,” says Katie Miller, vice president of mortgage lending at Navy Federal. “For example, you want to work with an institution to find a loan that best fits your situation, so you can focus on searching for that perfect home.”
And let’s say things get more complex down the road. The right financial institution should also be able to provide both personal financial counseling as well as investing and retirement services. Both banks and credit unions provide these kinds of support services. Not-for-profit institutions, like credit unions, are member owned and therefore tend to put members' needs first when it comes to any and all decisions.
Security is a priority.
When it comes to banking, security is a top priority. Think of your financial institution as your partner in this. You should be able to trust them to keep your information confidential, and they should give you the tips and tools to be able to protect yourself in this ever-changing security environment.
When researching, pay attention to features like fraud protection on cards, automated alerts for transactions or foreign purchases, and a secure mobile banking app. In addition, look for a credit union or bank that promotes fraud prevention from an educational perspective. You’d be surprised at the number of simple steps you can take to proactively prevent fraud and identity theft and improve security on all of your accounts.
It's the little things.
We’ve all heard it before — “it’s the little things that count.” So ask yourself, is your financial institution doing things right and doing the right things? When you walk through the doors of their branch, are you greeted by name? Do you feel like a welcomed member of the community? A positive experience means being treated like a real person with specific needs, rather than numbers in an account.
Another way to get a good sense is to check out their social media presence. Check out their Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts to see what they're doing. Are they pushing products or financial advice? Are they responding to customer questions and concerns? Top banks and credit unions use these channels as a way to get to know their customers or members, educate them on various financial topics and answer their questions.
The truth is there really are financial institutions that care about the people that bank with them. Now you're equipped to find the ones that do. And if switching is on your mind, a good credit union or bank will gladly help you do that, too!
Navy Federal is federally insured by NCUA and an Equal Housing Lender.