Personal and Business Banks – Choosing One for You

download (15)As you browse various banks to choose the one that fits your needs, take the time to learn about the assistance and services offered because many differences exist. By asking questions, you can learn what financial institutions offer and choose one that matches your lifestyle and investment requirements.

Location and Convenience

The way you manage your money will determine what type of institution you need for your money. If you need an organization with a convenient location to enable you to stop in while you’re running errands or on your way to or from work throughout the week, narrow your search to include only institutions with convenient locations. Don’t forget to consider the hours of the organization, also, to ensure that it will be open when you typically stop in.

Services

Ask about the services offered by any branch you consider using. Compare interest rates for all organizations you consider to enable you to receive the most return for your investment dollars. A full-service institution will likely offer both online banking and a walk-in branch to service customers. Online services should enable you to check your account balances, schedule payments, pay bills, transfer money, and make deposits. Find out if the branch has an ATM available for 24/7 transactions. Ask if the bank makes it possible for customers to use ATMs within the same network in other locations. Many banks provide foreign currency upon request for clients traveling internationally. Ask about the availability of foreign currency upon request, and find out how the branch assists customers traveling abroad.

Fees

Banks levy a variety of fees for their services. Find out exactly what fees you will incur as a customer of any financial institution before you deposit your money. Many institutions have fees associated with accounts. Ask about minimum balances required for accounts to learn whether you can avoid some fees. You may encounter overdraft fees, also. Overdraft fees would occur if your account balance falls into the red because you wrote a check or used your debit card. Some organizations will also charge a specific amount for each day an account is in “overdrawn” status. Most banks offer ATMs for their customers, but find out what fees are involved with using this convenience. It’s common for banks to provide a free ATM machine on-site for the convenience of their customers. Often, you won’t incur a fee for using the ATM located at the branch unless your usage exceeds minimums set by the institution. You can use other ATMs in other locations, but this type of usage will usually incur a fee.

A financial institution’s credentials and reputation are another factor to consider as you weigh the pros and cons of any organization. In the end, you should base your final decision on the branch that offers the most services for the least money, while prioritizing customer service and satisfaction. Any organization with these priorities should be able to take care of all of your financial needs without a problem.

 

How Investment Banks Changed the American Landscape

download (14)19th Century – Civil War

Investment banking has been around since the start of the 19th century. To put that in perspective, Napoleon was still winning wars, and Ohio just became the 17th state. Private banks were offering investment-banking functions during this time and up until the Civil War. In the 1860’s, Jay Cooke started the largest securities selling operation the United States had ever seen. He amassed more than $1.5 billion dollars in war bonds for the U.S. treasury, supplying much needed capital to the Union Army.

Post-War

The period after the Civil War was tumultuous for the financial market. In older established countries such as Great Britain, capital could be sourced from a vast number of international banks. The United States, on the other hand, was growing rapidly but had no such resources. Investment banks emerged to connect investors with capital and firms who needed that capital during the time of western expansion. Large amounts of capital were needed to fund heavy industry, mining companies, and railroads, such as the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific.

The Great Depression

Skipping ahead to the 1930’s, The Great Depression had taken hold of the nation, and President Roosevelt was in office. The banking system in the United States had collapsed and all functions had ceased. Roosevelt had constructed the New Deal, a series of laws and executive orders designed to provide relief, recovery, and reform to the ravaged U.S. A huge portion of the New Deal was concerned with the banking system. The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 formally separated banks by function, either commercial or investment banks. Unlike traditional commercial banks, they could no longer accept deposits or issue notes. They would serve as intermediaries or brokers.

Post Depression- Present

After the era of the New Deal, investment banks shifted their focus to advising on mergers and acquisitions and public offerings of securities, such as stocks. The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 was repealed in 1999 and removed the separation between investment and deposit banking. This move directly contributed to the financial crisis of 2007. This is sometimes called the Great Recession or the Global Financial Crisis. It was the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression. There is currently reform and change going on regarding the banking system.

Regardless of the banking highs and lows, investment banking changed the American landscape. It turned the tides of the Civil War, and Western expansion would have been deterred without it. It facilitates capitalism in America and is a pillar of modern banking. Lending money and making money – it’s all a part of the American dream.

 

Great Banks Bring You Comfort

download (13)You want to keep track of your money, and the best way to do this is by finding a financial institution that offers many options for banking. These types of businesses want their customers to feel secure and appreciated, and the right bank will bring you a sense of comfort. Learn what to look for when choosing a place to safely house your earnings.

Customer Service

When it comes to banks, customer service is key. You want to choose a facility that has short wait times when you are standing in line. Efficient and helpful associates help you place money in the appropriate accounts for maximum benefit.

If you are opening an account for the first time, choose a branch that has lots of friendly people who are willing to work with you to choose the right account for your needs. You want to compare checking, savings, and other accounts side by side with an associate who will have patience while explaining the differences to you.

Options

You don’t just want to throw your funds into any account and walk away. You want options to maximize your benefit. Choose checking accounts with a low minimum balance and a decent interest rate, or savings that allow you to transfer money from other accounts on a monthly basis. Banks that offer you many different options for housing your money are the most likely to be able to meet your personal needs.

Safety

All banks are insured, so you don’t have to worry about your funds. Choose facilities that have security cameras in their parking lots, and well-lit ATMs for after-hours withdrawals and deposits. Check the building to make sure that safes are out of sight, and that employees work behind safety glass for their protection. The more measures in security a financial institution makes, the more secure you know your funds are.

Hours

Many banks have weekend or extended hours, so you don’t have to take time off work to access your money. You can also take advantage of online banking, so you can check your funds during closed hours. Choose an institution that is open on Saturdays or has late Friday hours so you can talk to a representative whenever you want. The more flexible a banking facility is, the more convenient they are for you to use on your own time.

Banks are known for their ability to keep their customers happy, so finding a great one is not a difficult task. As you explore your banking options, keep many factors in mind. The way customers are treated, how funds are handled, and how secure a building is can all be indicators of how great a financial business is. Explore many different kinds of branches before settling on one that will work for you, so you know you and your money are in professional hands. With a bit of research, you will find the perfect institution that will work best for your financial needs.

 

Opportunities for Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa

images (3)A burgeoning market for micro financial institutions (MFI) is set to take hold. The Sub-Saharan African low-income market is set to explode by 25 percent in 2015. Currently 863 million people live in 47 countries. Total gross domestic product (GDP) is $1 billion. It grew to an average of 5.4 percent every year from 2009 until 2015. Today it has the potential for microfinance institutions to generate deposits of $59 billion from those earning less than $10 a day.

The challenge of delivering affordable financial services to low-income markets in Sub-Saharan Africa is an urgent one.

Extended Reach

It’s starts with local financial institutions bridging geographic, cultural gaps and administrative constraints through innovative distribution models.

While the Roland Berger Strategy Consultants study on Delivering Financial Services

in Sub-Saharan Africa, the City Town Vehicle (CTV model) already exists and is a conceptual framework, the existing infrastructure that takes into account distances, population densities and economic potential, there is a third element that can facilitate an even greater outreach.

The model combines different channels to handle a variety of products across geographical areas. It allows banks to keep their operations simple while achieving large-scale outreach to low-income clients. Cooperation among financial service providers, mobile network operators and retailers is the key. By building on the existing framework between various players helps keep costs down while increasing convenience.

Beyond Mobile

In the Think:act Study, the concept of roving agents furnished with Point of Sale (POS) devices was research. The agent would be sent out into locations where villagers rarely leave their communities, but still operate small businesses and can benefit from banking transactions. The agents would visit poorer neighborhoods and remote markets, distant towns (to increase mobilization of deposits) and villages of 2,000 and less residence.

Traveling agents would handle client registration and activation of accounts, as well as being able to offer the full set of transaction services, and support loan application, pay-out and collection of repayments and interest. Roving agents travel back and forth between the (various) village(s) that they serve and the town where they rebalance accounts at the super agent or mini branch when cash limits are reached.

Underserved Markets

The study found that MFIs in Sub-Saharan Africa, have an average client base of 31,000 people. It cannot keep pace with the fast growing low-income adult population. So far they only been able to provide financial services to a select few in the local townships.

Many MFIs shun rural areas and agriculture which is still the main focus of most Africans’ economic life. They seem to prefer to serve small businesses in easier accessible urban and peri-urban settings with higher average loan amounts.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, about 80 percent of the 498 million adults still do not have access to banking services, which is the highest rate of financial exclusion in the world, according to the study. Penetration of savings accounts in Africa is less than one-third of the average level of other developing markets, with 202 commercial bank accounts per 1,000 adults, compared to 661 in other developing countries.