port of harlem magazine
ivan brown realty
Do You Really Need a Bank?
Jun 03 – Jun 16, 2021

Key Takeaways

- Your brokerage firm may offer many of the same services you can find at a bank. Plus, it may be a convenient way to manage your money—in one place.

- Credit unions also offer banking services—with potentially fewer fees than banks.

- Banks are still good for loans and most have convenient locations for in-person transactions, but mobile banking has made the brick-and-mortar bank less vital.

Stopping by the local bank branch used to be part of most Americans' everyday routine, like picking up milk and bread at the grocery store. But changes in technology have made banks less central in many people’s lives. Plus, banks now have more competition when it comes to basic banking services.

In addition to online banks, community banks, and credit unions, many brokerage firms have started offering their customers a range of financial services that are similar to those found at conventional banks—and Fidelity is one of them. "Brokerages have come to believe they can offer many of the services a bank would offer, either directly or through third-party arrangements," says Erik Lind, vice president of cash management products at Fidelity Investments. "These include the ability to write checks against brokerage accounts and link debit cards to those accounts for easier access via either ATMs or point-of-sale transactions, or through brokerage accounts that have been set up to act like checking accounts."

"Some brokerage firms have also introduced enhanced cash management services, including mobile deposit and bill payment functionality, to better compete with banks," says Lind.

Banks have expanded their services too. Services such as retirement planning, asset allocation, and managed accounts—all previously available primarily at brokerage firms—can now be found at some banks.

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