Visiting the local branch of a bank is a regular activity for millions of people, but have you ever stopped to think about what a bank actually does? Banks provide a variety of services.
Beyond simple checking and savings accounts, banks can serve as wealth managers, providers of life insurance, lenders, and much more.
Common Banking Services
The most common banking services are checking and savings accounts. A checking account offers the ability to pay for items and services by check, and many checking accounts also come with debit cards. Savings accounts do not have debit cards or checks associated with them because their purpose is to save money.
A bank is primarily a place to store and retrieve money. Any bank account is a contract between a person or business and the bank. The bank cares for the person’s money, either for free or for a low monthly fee. The customer can deposit and withdraw funds as much as they want, but some bank accounts have minimum balances that must be maintained.
Although customers always have access to their deposited funds, banks use the collective money entrusted to them to offer loans and make investments. Banks earn money through interest on loans and earnings on investments. In exchange for the use of their money, banks allow customers to earn interest on the amount of money they have deposited. Savings accounts usually earn more interest than checking accounts. On average, the interest rate that a customer earns is less than 1%.
Customers can make deposits of cash, checks, and money orders. They can deposit in person by filling out a deposit slip and handing the money to a teller. Customers can also deposit money by using automated teller machines (ATMs) either on the bank’s property or at locations, such as grocery store parking lots, around the community. As online banking becomes more popular, many banks offer the ability to deposit checks by taking a picture of them in a mobile banking app.
Banks are also well known for their lending services. Many banks offer auto and mortgage loans. Banks also lend money for business loans and personal loans. Some banks even offer credit cards.
Money Advisory Service
Banks often have in-house financial advisors in each branch who are available to meet with customers. Some banks offer investment accounts. Investment accounts have much higher minimum balances than other accounts. For example, some banks advertise a $1,000 minimum balance for investment accounts. The money in an investment account is invested on the customer’s behalf. When the investments earn dividends or investments are sold for a profit, the customer earns that money.
Most people are not savvy stock traders. That is why working one-on-one with a financial advisor at the bank can help everyday people make the best investment decisions. Investment is not limited to the stock market. Financial advisors at banks can also assist customers who want to invest in EFTs, life insurance, bonds, and other securities.
Some banks offer complimentary money advisory services. Others offer it free to customers who open up investment accounts. It is also common for banks to charge monthly brokerage fees on investment accounts, and these fees cover the cost of money advisory services.
A person who either earns a large amount of money each year or already has a large sum of money faces unique challenges. To sustain wealth, the account holder needs to invest money wisely so that it will continue to grow. Another method of maintaining wealth is using money strategically to avoid paying hefty taxes every year.
Wealth management services, commonly offered by banks, assign skilled employees to work individually with account holders who have large balances. This service provided by a bank helps customers with everything from taxes to monthly accounting. Wealth management professionals also guide wealthy account holders through the process of creating investment strategies.
At times, managing a large amount of money can prove to be more difficult than earning it. That is why wealthy clientele value the expertise of employees in the wealth management department of their favorite bank. Wealth management is a service only offered to the most affluent customers of a bank.
People who have large sums of money often shop around for the wealth management departments that fit their needs the most. Wealth management is also called private banking or relationship management at some institutions. Some banks charge a fee, at times a percentage of what customers earn, for wealth management. Other banks supply wealth management services for free, but the employees earn a commission for the financial products they sell to customers.
Mutual Fund Management
Mutual funds are situations where one business uses money supplied by a large group of investors to engage in specific types of securities. Mutual funds can invest in short-term debts or even bonds from local, state, or federal governments. Mutual funds can often invest in stocks. Each mutual fund often carries some sort of theme, either in the type of investments made or the industry the investments are in.
Some banks establish their own mutual funds that their customers can invest in. One of the easiest ways to invest in a mutual fund through a bank is to open up a money market account. A money market mutual fund is based on specific types of investment that are considered to be of high quality and low risk. Anyone who deposits money into a money market account with a bank is specifically making their money available to be used in the bank’s money market mutual fund. In exchange for this use, the bank offers customers a higher than usual interest rate on the money they deposit into their money market accounts.
With services ranging from basic checking accounts to highly skilled financial advice, forming a relationship with a local bank is often a first step in taking control of one’s own financial future. Banks offer accessible tools to help people in a variety of circumstances with financial planning.