Factors to Consider
These are some of the most important factors to consider in your search:
- Personal needs. First and foremost, what are your personal needs? How much wealth do you currently control? Are you shopping for services for yourself as an individual or for your business? Do you need niche advice or are you fine working with a generalist? What kinds of services are you shopping for?
- Personal priorities. Next, think about your personal priorities – and you can consult the remaining items on this list to help you do it. For example, if you’re torn between a provider with excellent rates and one with stellar customer service, which one would you choose? Hopefully, you’ll find a provider with both low rates and great customer service, but if you could only have one, which would you choose?
- Rates and fees. Obviously, you’ll need to think about the rates and the fee schedules of each financial service provider – and be sure to check for “hidden” fees while you’re at it. Some lending institutions advertise low interest rate loans, but have high closing costs or other fees to close the gap. Make sure you’re comparing different institutions and different products “apples to apples” to ensure the comparison is appropriate.
- Customer experience. Next, think about the customer experience you’ll get when interacting with this brand – not just the customer service, though customer service is part of the customer experience. Customer experience is about the sum total of the experiences you have with this brand, from the feeling you get when you first see an advertisement to the support you get when you’re trying to resolve a major issue. Is this company known for its excellent customer service? Have you interacted with it in the past? Do they put their customers first?
- Products and services available. You’ll also need to think about the different types of financial products and services available through this provider. Sometimes, you can shop for providers on a per-item basis, adding new providers whenever you have new needs. But most of the time, it’s better to keep as many services as possible under one umbrella; therefore, it pays to partner with providers who can do a bit of everything.
- Brand reputation. What kind of reputation does this brand have? Has it been around for decades, or is this a new player in the financial industry? What vibe do you get from them?
- Ease of communication. How easy is it to communicate with someone from this institution? Ideally, you’ll have a dedicated agent or point of contact with whom you can consult on a regular basis. If you’re stuck waiting for an email response for days, this probably isn’t the provider for you.
- Long-term relationship potential. Do you see potential for this financial institution to serve you well into the future? Or are you just taking care of your immediate needs?
- Reviews and testimonials. Also be sure to check out the reviews and testimonials of previous clients who have worked with this provider in the past. What do they have to say about this brand?
Conducting the Search
So how can you find the financial service providers you need?
These are some of your best options:
- Referrals. For starters, you can try to get some referrals from friends, family members, and colleagues (depending on the context of your needs). Are there financial service providers they’ve used in the past? Do they have direct connections to any individuals or institutions? It’s often helpful to get a personal referral, rather than relying on online reviews or self-promoted claims in marketing materials.
- Search. You can also search for financial service providers using an online search engine. This is the easiest and most straightforward way to discover new institutions; it’s also a convenient way to compare different providers apples to apples and investigate customer reviews and testimonials.
- Networking. Fleshing out your personal network is never a bad thing. Meeting new people and getting access to more points of contact could help introduce you to financial service providers you didn’t know existed – and help you collect some sound advice along the way.
Even with these strategies in place, making the final decision for your financial service providers can be tough. Be sure to talk to your contacts directly, compare information thoroughly, and set your priorities in a way that makes your decision logically clear.