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Private Banking for the Uber Wealthy: Is It Worth It?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

If you’re a high-net-worth individual — a so-called HNWI — private banking is a must-have resource for managing your financial life. Among other things, a private banking relationship gives you an outside perspective on your financial decisions, helps you find investment opportunities and aids in the management of your assets.

But before moving forward with a private banking relationship, it’s important to recognize that this service may not be the best solution for your goals. Careful analysis of the services offered by a bank can help weigh the pros and cons of a private banking relationship.

What is private banking?

Private banking is a personalized banking experience, specifically for wealthy individuals, families and businesses. Typically, HNWIs with family or personal fortunes valued at $1 million or more make use of this service. These services nearly always include the services of a dedicated banker, who provides one-on-one assistance and financial advice to clients.

According to Ken Tumin, founder of DepositAccounts.com, a LendingTree website, it is a service that really helps busy people cut down on time spent dealing with the minute details of banking, such as deposits, withdrawals, a change in address, or help with a new debit card.

Because these relationships offer such specialized attention, the service isn’t available to everyone. In order to qualify for this service, a potential client needs to have deposited a very high minimum amount — typically $250,000 to $1 million — with a bank, or simply possess a very high net worth in the millions, before they are considered for these services. According to Tumin, funds invested with a bank can be through assets, accounts, or a mixture of both.

Private banking perks

At its core, it offers standard banking services and solutions that are tailored to be quick and streamlined. Customers are able to contact their private banker on the phone or through email on their own schedule.

This easy access to simple banking services can be extremely helpful when it comes to the little details. Take, for instance, losing a debit card while traveling overseas. A private banker — for example, The Private Bank by Wells Fargo, which offers 24/7 support for their  customers — would be available to offer near-immediate assistance and expedite the shipment of the card.

Private banking also means fewer fees — this is another reward for big deposits. With Chase Bank’s Private Client service, checking and savings account fees, worldwide ATM fees and even fees on wire transfers are all waived. Chase Private Bank also allows higher deposit and withdrawal limits, access to a free safe deposit box and free personal checks.

This service also offers the option for multiple debit cards on the account so the entire family has access, as well as the ability to set spending limits. There are also options for new investment opportunities, and special access to competitive rates and discounts when opening new lines of credit. Some banks even offer financial planning to help grow your wealth.

Requirements for private banking

Bank of America

Bank of America Private Bank and Merrill Lynch both require a minimum of $250,000 in investable assets

Chase Bank

Chase Private Client requires an average daily balance of $250,000 or more. This can be through any combination of deposits and investments within Chase Bank

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo’s The Private Bank requires a minimum of $1,000,000 in deposits and investments

Citibank

Citibank Private Bank requires a minimum net worth of $25 million

Is private banking worth it?

If you are unable to meet the minimum requirements for private banking, don’t worry. Tumin believes that private banking relationships don’t provide much value overall, especially if the customer is required to maintain a high balance in a low-interest account.

“If you have $250,000 in a savings account, you might get a little extra boost of interest, but it will probably only be 0.1%. If that’s the case, you have to figure out if the loss of interest is worth the benefits,” said Tumin.

If you are required to maintain a high balance in a low interest account, Tumin recommends looking into brokerage firms which would be able to invest your money at a much higher ROI. “Someone that has a lot of wealth would be better off investing in mutual funds and ETFs through a brokerage firm. Plus, many also offer tax management services,” he said.

The rest of us aren’t missing out on much when it comes to private banking, according to Tumin. “Many banks offer free checking accounts, and high interest within accounts,” which means customers that don’t hit the $250,000 minimum can still reap some of the same benefits.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Ben Moore
Ben Moore |

Ben Moore is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Ben here

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Banking

What Is a Patriot Bond and What Can You Do With It?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Savings bonds are intrinsically tied to American ideals, serving as a way for American citizens to grow and save their money while supporting the country.

They were originally conceived by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to help finance World War II. The Patriot Bond was created after the devastating attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

What is a Patriot Bond?

A Patriot Bond is a special paper Series EE savings bond created in direct response to the terrorist attacks of September 11. Sold from December 2001 through December 2011, the bond provided a tangible way for Americans to support the country’s reaction to the attacks, as proceeds from the bonds went to an anti-terrorism government fund. A Patriot Bond can be identified by the words “Patriot Bond” printed at the top, in between the owner’s Social Security number and the date the bond was issued.

While the bond may have a unique name, it functions like a standard EE paper savings bond. The bond could be purchased for between $25 and $10,000. It was government-backed, making it a low-risk option for Americans to grow their money.

Each bond was assigned a fixed interest rate that guaranteed the bond would grow in value over time. And just like Series EE savings bonds today, Patriot Bonds could be purchased for a variety of uses, such as saving for retirement, growing a college fund or simply to give as a gift. The Patriot Bond was discontinued in 2012 when the Treasury switched to electronic bonds.

Can I redeem a Patriot Bond if I have one today?

The short answer is yes. While EE bonds typically cannot be redeemed until after 12 months has passed from the date of purchase, the last Patriot Bond was printed well beyond that time frame, making it eligible for redemption. But there are some things to consider before heading to your bank to redeem it.

Ken Tumin, founder of DepositAccounts — which, like MagnifyMoney, is owned by LendingTree — said there are a few conditions you need be aware of before redeeming. Patriot Bonds mature in the same fashion as an EE savings bond, which means they earn interest every year for 30 years. So the longer you have the bond, the more it will be worth. Once the bond hits the 30-year mark, the bond stops accruing interest and reaches maturity, making it the perfect time to redeem.

Tumin said Patriot Bonds, as well as all Series EE bonds, are guaranteed to double in value after 20 years, but you might not need to wait so long. “If someone got a Patriot Bond in 2002, interest rates were much higher back then, so [the bond] could have doubled already,” he said.

If your bond has not yet fully matured, it may be in your best interest to convert it to an electronic bond, which will be helpful if you lose or damage a paper one. TreasuryDirect.gov — part of the  U.S. Department of the Treasury Bureau of the Fiscal Service — has a feature called SmartExchange that can convert your paper bonds into electronic bonds. Electronic bonds are much more efficient when compared to paper bonds. They can be redeemed anytime through the Treasury’s website, as well as transferred easily to another owner.

How do I redeem my bond, and can I take it all?

If you are interested in redeeming your Patriot Bond, you can head to almost any bank to exchange it for cash. In general, paper bonds come with no limitations on how much of the bond’s value you can redeem at once, but some banks may have their own restrictions.

A Patriot Bond can also be redeemed through the Treasury Retail Securities Services. To redeem this way, you must have a certifying officer from a local bank certify your signature on the back of the bond. Once certified, you must then mail the bonds, your Social Security number and the Treasury’s direct deposit form to Treasury Retail Securities Services.

I have a Series I savings bond. Do I cash this in differently?

While Patriot Bonds were printed as Series EE savings bonds, you may be in the possession of a Series I bond. The value of a Series I bond is determined differently since part of the bond’s interest rate is based on inflation (thus the “I” in the name).

Tumin said the bond is first assigned a fixed interest rate that stays with the bond over its lifetime. Then, the bond is given an inflation rate. The inflation rate changes every six months in accordance with the inflation rate, which the Treasury announces on the first business day every May and November. The fixed rate and inflation rates are combined when determining the overall value of the bond.

Just like the EE bonds, an I bond can be cashed 12 months after the date of purchase. The bond also reaches full value maturity after 30 years.

How can I find out how much my Patriot Bond is worth?

Determining the worth of your Patriot Bond is pretty easy.

TreasuryDirect has a simple calculator you can use to find out the value of the bond. You can also use the calendar to see the expected value of the bond in the years to come, which will help determine when you would like to redeem the bond.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Ben Moore
Ben Moore |

Ben Moore is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Ben here

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Banking

Is a Joint Checking Account Right for You?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Joint checking accounts are accounts with two or more owners, and opening one can be a big step for a relationship. They can help streamline household income, simplify your financial life and can be used positively as a vehicle to effectively manage everyday expenses.

Luke and Amber Olney, a married couple from Bourbonnais, Ill., both saw the process of creating a joint checking account as a moment of growth in their marriage, they told MagnifyMoney.

Amber, a stay-at-home mom, said she views the account as a “checks and balances” for the way she spends her money.  “In moments where I used to be frivolous with my money, I now have to stop myself. First of all, I know Luke will see,” she said. “Second, this is not just my money. I need to spend it in a way that reflects both of us.”

But with a second person on your account, you also open the door to potential pitfalls, which could lead to both financial problems and tension in the relationship. Because opening a joint checking account can be such a big, and very personal decision, it is necessary to understand the benefits and risks involved.

The pros and cons of a joint checking account

Simplification. Opening a joint checking account comes with a variety of benefits for both you and your partner. According to Elizabeth Buffardi, a certified financial advisor in Oak Brook, Ill., one of the more obvious benefits to a joint checking account is simplifying your household’s finances. Having a one-stop account for the money needed to fund your monthly mortgage or rent, groceries, utility bills and other regular expenses, can help set you up for success to manage your expenses wisely. Opening a joint account can also expand the number of checking account options available to you. Combining your household incomes could mean you’d hit minimum balance thresholds required by higher tier checking accounts, which could mean less fees and earning higher interest rates.

You can get twice as much FDIC coverage. FDIC insurance offers protection for up to $250,000 per account also per account holder. So, if you both jointly own an account you are technically protected up to $500,000.

Building trust. A joint checking account could also help facilitate trust within the relationship. In Buffardi’s experience with married couples, she’s seen the process of creating a joint checking account as a moment of accountability for both parties.  The dual access provides insight into the other’s spending habits, operating as a second eye on their purchasing decisions.

Increased risk. While a joint checking account can come with great benefits, there are risks involved as well. With both parties allowed equal access to the account, including the ability to make withdrawals without any approval needed, a “risky spender” could open the door to financial ruin if one is not careful. Buffardi has seen risky spenders drain joint checking accounts through excessive shopping, especially through debit card usage, online and in store. Habits like this can lead to expensive overdraft fees, missed bill payment, and the inability to fund the day-to-day household needs, such as purchasing groceries.

How to protect yourself

Since both parties attached to a joint checking account are responsible for the funding of the account, as well as liable for all fees associated, it is important to establish safety measures to maintain financial security.

Set ground rules. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to come up with a budget both parties agree on and know that they can stick to. According to Buffardi, “the goal of going through a budgeting exercise is not to limit you. A budget is there to make sure you’re spending money on things that give you joy, while still maintaining your household expenses and growing your savings.” Buffardi recommends working together to create a budget that you can both follow, and to check in regularly with each other. Open and constant communication about finances will ensure that you are still on the same page.

Use a hybrid approach. In a situation where someone in the relationship has poor spending habits, it can be helpful to have a second checking account separate from the joint account. The account can be used to hold budgeted spending money set aside for the risky spender to shop with, and the debit card for the joint account should be taken away. In Buffardi’s experience, a debit card can be the tool that puts couples in jeopardy with their finances as it can be viewed by some as “free money”, easily swiped and scanned.

How do you know if you’re ready for a joint checking account?

Have an open conversation. Deciding to open a joint checking account can be a big step in a relationship, so the conversation might be a difficult one to have. Buffardi recommends being completely honest with your partner about your financial situation, and to remain sensitive to their reaction.

While some couples, like the Olneys, see it as a natural progression of their relationship, others can have a completely different outlook on a joint checking account.

“Many people can experience a certain loss of freedom when giving up their personal checking account and creating an account with their partner,” says Buffardi. “The conversation might dig up feelings of anxiety as [a joint account] gives the sense that the person now has to report in to somebody… [as well as] give a good reason on why they’re spending money the way they are.”

Buffardi advises approaching the conversation with care, and to be open to the possibility that your partner may not yet be comfortable with the idea.

A joint checking account isn’t for everyone, or right for every couple. Buffardi recommends that if you’re uncomfortable talking openly about finances and are not quite ready for your partner to have insight into your regular spending habits, it is probably not the best time to open a joint account. In that case, she recommends coming to an agreement on who will be responsible for household expenses, and to continue to still stick to a budget. However, Buffardi highly advises maintaining a joint savings account no matter what. Having multiple savings accounts across multiple banks can mean less income from interest earned on the account over time. Depositing into one savings account with the highest interest rate will yield the most growth for the account, setting you and your partner up for a healthy financial future regardless of whether you have a joint checking account.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Ben Moore
Ben Moore |

Ben Moore is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Ben here

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