The elements of a perfect bank

I’ve been with my bank for about 10 years, ever since I paid a visit to the branch down the road from my house and opened up my first account on my own. Most of my friends were also with ASB, and are to this day.

Inertia is what keeps most people where they are. It’s a pain to make changes in your financials, and changing banks is a pretty major undertaking. It seems too hard, too complicated, too time-consuming. Geocoding can be done simply through address interpolation, which uses data from a street GIS where the street network is already inputted within the geographic coordinate space. Attributed in each street segment are address ranges, such as house numbers from one segment to another. Here is what geocoding does: (1) It takes an address, (2) matches it to a street and particular segment (e.g. a block), and (3) interpolates the address position. However, issues may arise in the free geocode api process. What happens is that you have to distinguish between ambiguous addresses (say, “43 Hampton Drive” and “43E Hampton Drive”). It’s also a challenge when you geocode new addresses for a street that is not yet added to the GIS database. Using interpolation also entails a number of caveats, including the fact that it assumes that the parcels are evenly spaced along the length of the segment. This is quite unlikely in reality – it can be that a geocode address is off by a number of thousand feet. A more sophisticated geocoding application will match geocode information to the property level, using such tools as USPS address data, and cascade out to block, track or other levels depending on data matching accuracy. Other means of geocoding involves locating a point at the center of a land parcel, if parcel or property data is available in the GIS database. GPS is also useful for mapping a location in rural places areas or locations that lack reliable street network data and addressing. As for traffic accidents, it is appropriate to geocode to a street intersection or midpoint along a centerline on a street. Combining different geocoding techniques is also useful for certain situations. It is recommended to choose the most versatile geocoding tool. Address geocoding, for instance, can be used to determine latitude/longitude values with cascading accuracy, from the advanced tools, get reverse location by translating latitude and longitude information to find street addresses, and append FIPS state codes (FIPS 5-2) and FIPS county codes (FIPS 6-4) to street addresses, to mention a few. Address geocoding is a must for increasing the efficiency of shipping, tracking, regional store recommendation, customer distribution analysis, and mailing efforts in important matters, along with being a great way to pinpoint everyone in your contact list for personalized and targeted messaging. Maps that appear on a computer screen look more and more like those printed in books… over the past few years they even have the same enhancements and features as do printed maps to make them even more “user friendly”. But there are two very different kinds of maps, and the differences are important. Rastor maps are really electronic versions of printed maps… essentially pictures of geography and roads. They are, like printed maps, drawn to scale, with accuracy depending on the drawing accuracy. Usually relationships of distance are accurate so that, for example, two roads are located the correct distance from each other. But rastor maps, like printed maps, are designed to show relationships, not actual specific locations. Digital maps are actually renderings from a database. That database contains information about each road segment and node (an intersection between roads) that includes such things as direction, curvature, road classification, restrictions, and longitude and latitude. They can be drawn on the screen or printed with a result that is usually more accurate than rastor or printed maps and has the added feature of the roads being in the geographically correct location, and far more easily matched to geocoded data. In some cases, maps from different sources don’t agree with each other. You might see a street on a printed map, but not find it in a database. You could see the street in both places, but can’t access addresses on part or all of the street. Mapping data is gathered from a variety of sources, and linked to address data through multiple methods. Sometimes data is missing or simply behind the updating process.

But for me, it’s more than that. I can’t say my bank has ever really rewarded me for loyalty (after all, I’m small fry) but I genuinely think ASB is truly innovative and hands down has the best internet banking facility out there. Given how I like to manage my finances, this is top of the list for me. I’ve seen National, ANZ, Kiwibank and BNZ internet banking in action (albeit, some of them not for a couple of years now) and ASB has always been way ahead of the curves feature-wise.

I’ve had the opportunity to give direct feedback in the past through a one-on-one market research session, and the one feature that I really wanted turned out to be something lots of others had requested, and was implemented by popular demand. A company that listens to customers is a rarer beast than it really should be. And a preview of new features in the mobile app (now out) definitely cemented that – the integration with TradeMe is a stroke of genius. Anyone who’s ever used TradeMe to buy anything (which is most of the adult New Zealand population…) knows what a pain organising payment can be (unless it’s a bigger seller that accepts Visa). Linking in with TradeMe’s API to facilitate easy transactions eliminates most of that hassle.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my setup – no monthly fees, a high interest online savings account, a Visa with low fees and a rewards programme. Even better would be a no-fee card, but I’ve yet to find one of those in New Zealand. The only reason I might anticipate changing in the future is at the home-buying stage if another bank has a better deal on a mortgage.

What is it that keeps you loyal to your bank? Would you change banks for a better offer?

10 thoughts on “The elements of a perfect bank

  • Reply Girl Meets Debt January 7, 2013 at 11:05

    My parents opened a bank account for me when I was around 7 years old and I kept that same bank account for over 20 years. I only switched banks 2 years ago when I got a job as a bank teller at a different bank and one of the employee benefits was free banking. I no longer work at the bank but still have friends that do so I continue to enjoy the free banking 😀

    I personally think that most banks are too similar and unless the rate for something big like a mortgage is significantly cheaper, I would not switch because it is such a hassle!

  • Reply MissAmanda January 8, 2013 at 10:17

    I started to change over to a new bank because it was free, but when I realized the free bank put a 5 business day hold on everything, I back-tracked and I’m now struggling to balance two accounts with different banks. It’s annoying because I have direct deposits going into one, and automatic payments coming out of the other, so I’m constantly transferring money back and forth.

  • Reply Amanda January 8, 2013 at 13:54

    I’ve been with my bank (HSBC) since I was a child and my mother opened my first account for me. I stick with them for my personal banking because I have never been charged any banking fees unlike many of my friends. I don’t even think they have fee-free banking now – I’ve just managed to luck out in holding onto my twenty year old account.

    I’m not faithful though. While my personal banking and main credit card (fee-free!) is with HSBC, I shopped around for all my other financial products. My second credit card is with GE Credit (28 degrees), as it offers no international currency conversion fees – perfect for overseas travel or even online purchases. My mortgage is with ANZ because they offered the best rate at the time for my situation – once I come up to three years though, it will be time to reassess the best options on the market and consider a move.

    Our joint account is with ING Direct – fee free and online only (no bank branches). We went with them because they offered some benefits that would work well for us as a couple – they pay ATM fees when you withdraw more than $200 (plus give you $0.50 as well!), the debit cards have paywave, we could both get debit cards, no minimum deposit or balance, included online bill payment, etc etc.

    It’s definitely important to shop around for the product that’s right for you!

  • Reply Jordann @ My Alternate Life January 8, 2013 at 14:33

    I switched banks last year in order to bank with no fees. My new bank has no physical branches which is fine with me, if I need something I just give them a call. Unfortunately, the bank I switched to was recently purchased by the bank I moved away from, so I have a feeling I’ll be switching again in the future.

  • Reply Amanda January 9, 2013 at 02:14

    I don’t know if your account doesn’t do this, but my friends’ ASB accounts all charge them to save other people’s account details as “payees”, where as my ANZ account doesn’t. That’s one (of many) reasons why I once opened then closed an ASB account because to not use it after all.

    • Reply eemusings January 9, 2013 at 09:08

      No, you’re right – I remember when they introduced that (about that time I think they also raised the fees for starting/altering APs). I refused to save my internet/power company accounts and just did those manually every month. Shortly after that all my utility companies got with the times and started offering credit card payments anyway (HALLELUJAH, REWARD POINTS!). Aside from paying my LL our share of water every quarter, I literally never use Fastcheque, so it doesn’t bother me. I think with my fee-free account setup I also get charged if I need to do an over-the-counter transaction, but again, literally, I never go into a branch. Depends on how you like to bank, really.

      Most of my friends are with ASB still to this day … it had a really strong presence where we lived. I’ve had other bank accounts with National, BNZ, Kiwibank (particularly when banks were wooing us all at uni) but I’ve ended up sticking with ASB because it’s closest to what I need. BNZ would probably be my next choice/runner up.

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  • Reply Military Money Manual January 19, 2013 at 11:45

    I used to be all about the rate of return. I must have opened up accounts at 4 or 5 different banks in 2006-2008 to chase high interest rates, promotions, and high CD (certificate of deposit, or in Kiwi, term deposit) rates. Now though, with “high interest” savings accounts in the States paying 1%, its not really worth it to me to chase rates.

    Hugely important to me is no “BS” fees. No maintenance fees. No ATM fees. No usage fees. Any time any company charges me to access my own money, I am done dealing with that company.

    I’m also a big fan of consolidating financial accounts to keep it simple. That’s why my savings, checking, auto and home insurance, and CDs are all with http://www.USAA.com now. It offers no fees, awesome online banking, web Billpay, great customer support, and caters to US military personnel. I’m very happy with them right now. However, if interest rates start going up, or I ever get a better quote on my auto insurance, you can be sure USAA will get a call and have to match the offer from the competitor. I’m not so loyal that I’ll pay for it.

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