Bigger Not Always Better: Large Banks Vs Small Banks

By: Peter Kenny

What are you looking for in a bank? Are you more concerned about having extensive access to your account at all times or is your experiences with those that work in the bank every day? Depending upon how you answer that question and others, will go a long way in determining whether you would be happier with a large bank or a small one. Naturally, there are very clear-cut differences between larger financial institutions with multiple branches across the state or country and the small local bank that may have only one location in the county.

There are several factors that should be considered when it comes to a comparison between these two different types of institutions. None of them is more important than what kind of service you as the potential customer prefer. The best way to illuminate the differences is to compare the pros and cons of each one and let you, the customer, decide where you would be more comfortable doing business.

One of the biggest advantages of the large bank is sheer coverage. There are often multiple branches not only in a town or city but even across the country. Consequently, with so many locations spread out across a broad area, it is more likely that you will also have better ATM coverage provided by that banking network. You will not have to worry about paying extra services charges to make use of the ATM. Another advantage of bigger banks is the fact that even if you have to relocate, you will not have to transfer bank accounts and account numbers. This is a big plus for renters and those who have to move to a different city for business reasons.

Some of the cons of bigger banks only become obvious when you deal with them over time. Naturally, unlike a smaller bank, you are less likely to have that personal touch, and interaction with certain tellers and other bank employees. Bigger banks have large departments and customer service representatives handling issues sometimes from all over the country, depending upon the size of the institution. Another disadvantage is the fact there are typically far more fees associated with bigger banks and their practices than you will find in smaller banks. Personal service may take a backseat to other affairs when dealing with bureaucracy in the bank setting. (You are less likely to get assistance with loans and small business services in the larger bank setting.)

What are the advantages of the small bank? First of all, you have genuine personal attention and a stronger connection between bank worker and customer. In the smaller bank setting, you will be able to get assistance with loans. It is not uncommon to speak directly with the person in charge of approving a loan whereas in a larger bank setting you would never have access to someone in that executive capacity. Smaller banks are apt to work with their customers especially in cases with overdrawn accounts, account mistakes, etc. Of course, the common disadvantages have much to do with mobility of account and access to ATMs. With the former, if you have to move you may have to change bank accounts entirely since a branch may not exist in your new locations. With the latter, there are less ATMs associated with your bank so you will have to pay those extra fees for using another bank's ATM.

Certainly, there may be other differences not mentioned here, but those highlighted should suffice to show you some of the obvious differences between these two kinds of banks. The only question is, "Which one would you rather use?"

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