Valentine’s matchmaking: Finding your one true banker

You don’t want to give your heart to just anyone, and when it comes to financial well-being, that same attitude should apply. Settling shouldn’t be an option when you want that steady someone to help see you through life’s milestones, from paying off student debt and buying a first home to planning for a child’s college education and your own blissful golden years.

No one, but you

When scoping out the banking scene, consider who else may have dibs on your ideal partner. Some banks answer to shareholders and to Wall Street analysts. And sometimes, a bank’s financial advisors may have agreements in place to promote certain services and products, even if they’re not quite the best fit for you.

Look for a bank that focuses on one thing: serving you, the customer. Many banks will tell you what you want to hear, so do a little digging into their backgrounds to see if they really walk the walk.

Keep close

Long-distance relationships may start with the best of intentions, but there’s no doubt that they’re a challenge to maintain. Even if a big bank based on the East Coast has a branch in your town, that doesn’t necessarily mean that decisions about your finances will be made there. You may think you’ve found the perfect banker, only to be put off time and again to wait for sign-offs from afar.

A local or regional bank will have a much better understanding of where you’re coming from, as well as experts in place who understand the realities of your world – from the employment picture to housing market trends. Depending on the bank, representatives may even be empowered to make timely decisions, an attractive quality in any financial partner.

Find common ground

Finally, local and regional banks tends to be more invested in their communities. After all, these banks can only do well if their clients are thriving. Consider how a bank is giving back, and you might find that a potential banker is even connected to the issues that matter most to you.

Finding the right banker takes time. Beyond selecting someone with the education and expertise to help you achieve your financial goals, you can be in a financially awesome relationship by finding a partner who looks out for your best interests, is available when you need them, and shoulders responsibility in making potentially life-changing decisions.