4

I'm currently reading "Get a Financial Life" by Beth Kobliner after hearing it praised so much over on Money.SE. In the section on Banking, Kobliner says:

Why it pays to know your bank manager

If you have an account at a brick-and-mortar bank, it's a good idea to introduce yourself to the local branch manager at some point, just to get acquainted. I know this may sound old-school--most of us think of banks as faceless institutions--but I'm telling you it might actually help you out someday.

Of course, emails and phone calls are how most people deal with banks. And that's certainly more convenient when you have a question or a small problem. But the people on the other end of the communication are mostly working off scripts and have limited leeway to cut you a break. If you have a bigger problem, the manager at your bank branch is more empowered to help, and may be more likely to do so if you're not just another multidigit account number. It may even make sense to add your bank manager to your holiday card list. (No need to go overboard and invite him to your wedding.)

When a bank teller charged a friend of mine $30 for two certified checks--an amount he felt was too high--he politely discussed it with the bank manager, who waved the fees for him. The fact is, bank managers often forgive fees for customers who speak up, especially customers who have clean banking records.

So don't wait for a problem to arise. The next time you're at the bank, make a point of saying hello.

This is something that sounds appealing to me. I'm a friendly person and being on a first name basis with the manager at my local bank branch could be very beneficial.

However, I'm not sure how to approach this. If I walk into the bank, I'd almost certainly have to ask a teller or someone on the floor if I could speak with the manager. After all that, just saying hello and introducing myself may seem a waste of time to them, and I definitely wouldn't want to be straightforward with my intentions--"Hi there. I'm hoping to get to know you a little so that I can take advantage of our acquaintanceship if I ever need help here."

I'm not sure how to go from "multidigit account number" to someone who sends them holiday cards. How can I make this leap without being too awkward or straightforward?

  • 4
    First question that comes to mind: Does your culture match the one from whose perspective the book is written? Otherwise, this could be especially hard if it's not customary to be that friendly with a bank manager. – Tinkeringbell Jan 14 at 14:18
  • 1
    @Tinkeringbell good question! The book is written from a US perspective and that’s where I’m living, so I’d say that the culture matches. I haven’t heard of someone trying this before reading the book, but after reading that passage I could absolutely see it being possible in my area. I’m just not sure how to begin the relationship. – scohe001 Jan 14 at 14:22
  • Do you have any questions about banking or your accounts that it might make sense to discuss with a bank manager, so you would have a "legitimate" reason to chat? Maybe questions on types of accounts, CDs, getting a safety deposit box, etc? – DaveG Jan 14 at 14:31
6

I've never become acquaintances with a bank manager, but I have a lot of experience making acquaintances with the staff (managers included) at several restaurants that I frequent, and I believe that the same types of interactions can apply to your situation. The best relationship that I had with a restaurant staff was at a place we will call Restaurant A, where the manager would come over and personally welcome me back when I went there.

A few general thoughts

The thing that I think is the most key for building a relationship with your bank manager is frequency of interaction. When I was on good terms with restaurant A, it was because I went there nearly every day for a 4 month period while I was traveling for work. Employees in customer facing businesses such as restaurants and banks will see hundreds to thousands of customers a day depending on how busy they are. If you only see them sporadically, they are less likely to remember you. To start building a good impression with them, you need to have frequent interactions. It doesn't necessarily have to be a conversation with them either. For example, if you went into the bank several times in a short span, that might be something that a manager would take notice of, and may lead to them introducing themself to you.

Some specific things to do

Compliment the staff

One thing that managers in any sort of customer service work love to hear that customers appreciate their staff. The one thing that was the most helpful thing for me in building a relationship with the manager at restaurant A was that one night I asked my waiter if I could speak to him (the manager). When he came over I told him how excellent of service I had gotten at the restaurant and thanked him. Managers won't always remember the people who complain about their staff, but they will remember people who went out of their way to appreciate the work that their staff does.

Little interactions can make a big impression

Small talk is a great way to build a casual relationship with someone, especially in an employee/customer dynamic. Once you have had an initial conversation with the manager, make small talk when you see them. Something along the lines of

Good morning Susan, lovely day isn't it?

Hello Bob, how are the kids?

Notice in the second example, I included a question about the manager's children. Any sort of information that you can gather about the person is a good thing to slip into your small talk. Good topics include sports, their family, non-political current events, etc... Including things that the other person enjoys (even if you don't) in short conversations will show that you are taking a genuine interest in them. This is spelled out in a little bit more detail in the book How to Win Friends and Influence People (which is a good read, and I found it to be quite helpful). A good summary from the Wikipedia page:

Talk in terms of the other person's interest. The royal road to a person's heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most. If we talk to people about what they are interested in, they will feel valued and value us in return.

Some closing thoughts

My previous point is predicated on already having met the person. That part, in my opinion, is the hardest. I personally like meeting the manager through complimenting their staff, because I find that it's an easy way to have a positive interaction with them.

  • One thing one should know/remember is that, like "HR is not your friend", bank managers are not your friends. Because they both have the same job/goal: protect the company. So, it's kind of possible to be nice and have small talks, but not more. They have to put a fence between personal and professional life. And I deal with them as individual (personal finance) and professional (my own business). They call you when they want to sell something or when you're in trouble. Then, you hear from them! Otherwise... :) – OldPadawan Jan 16 at 8:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.