10.26.2021

OT: Most banks suck. Not all of them, but most of them.

Nothing to do with the post but everything to do with how photogenic that 
90mm f2.8 Sigma lens is. It's just lovely.

When I first opened a business checking account oh so many years ago I liked my bank just fine. Everyone was nice and the fees were negligible. Really negligible. Then Texas banking laws changed and a larger bank holding company bought my bank. They became "no longer perfect" but they were still nice enough and the fees didn't change. And then a bigger whale came along about ten years ago and swallowed up that bank. And service got crappier. The bank personnel became less friendly and the fees went up. 

I only use a business bank account to deposit checks from clients and to write checks to my vendors. Nothing fancy. No big loans. In fact, I've never had to take out a business loan. So: checks in and checks out. As long as I kept an average balance of a couple thousand dollars in the account (never earning interest...) they didn't charge big fees. Sadly, my favorite bank and the one with my personal accounts doesn't offer business accounts...but that's a whole different story.

A couple of months ago I started getting mail about an upcoming change to the bank I'd been using. They were being taken over (yet again!) by a bank corporation from the midwest. There was a palpable change. The graphics and design of their communiques were ham-fisted and very pedestrian. More like the users manual for a cheap electric drill than a correspondence from a professional organization. And their copywriters wrote like autocratic dictators. Even their color and typeface choices were offensive and tawdry. Not at all the level of polish I would expect from any of my other financial service providers. I had mental pictures of their senior staff sporting hair weaves, and being personally accessorized with big pot bellies hanging over plaid, polyester suits.  And, worst of all they were raising fees across the board. If there was ever an invitation to move money somewhere else then I think these guys owned the patent for how to chase depositors away. 

Before this I hadn't had to change my bank, my bank routing number, or my account number in something like 30 years. And I was nervous that perhaps this disruption was the new state of business banking and that I'd find the same crap wherever I went. I could not have been more wrong or more past due to make a change. 

I checked out a few different banks online. Most had too many caveats and deposit requirements. They'd love to help me if I was willing to move my retirement savings over to their institutions but if not then, hey, good luck.

Then, at swim practice I remembered that one of my long time swim buddies works for a small, local, independent bank. I asked him for advice. He immediately told me I could open an account at his bank and there would never be fees, would never be minimum deposit requirements, no statement fees, no charges to print checks, and as much customer service as I could ever imagine. He put me in touch with the person at his bank who handles new accounts and we did most of our business over the phone. When the checks arrived from the printer he called to see if I needed to have them couriered over to my office. 

I dropped by the new bank to deposit a check yesterday, was greeted warmly, and my transaction was taken care of efficiently. Their decor and their graphics were bank appropriate. Altogether the branding and the service inspired trust and confidence. I'm so glad the old bank turned sour and nasty otherwise I probably would have never seen how comfortable a good business banking experience could be. 

This stuff is usually below the radar with me. I have face-to-face interactions once or twice in a given month with a bank. But banking and accounting are part of the business side of making photographs for a living and we wouldn't want to slight that topic. About as exciting as insurance. Or researching health plans. You don't want to do it...you gotta do it. Cause you really don't want to pay fees to banks for the privilege of them holding onto your money...

Got scary, horrible bank stories? Hey! It's nearly Halloween. Let em fly...

OT: The most fun part of my day is already over. But the rest of it should be highly satisfactory...


 This morning's swim practice was great. I swam in a lane with three of my favorite swim partners and we logged 3200 yards (approximately two miles) in our one hour workout --- which meant we kept moving all the way through. The pool was full of swimmers today and everyone seemed to jazzed and competitive. We did some distance sets in warm-up but the rest of the workout was short, sprint-y sets of 50's and 100's. The water was perfect today as well. And, as a bonus, I nailed every single flip turn.

We all love it when the weather starts to turn cooler and the mornings start with a bit of nip in the air. It makes getting into the pool both easier and harder. Hesitant to get in but the water feels warmer when you do.

I got the best compliment I could imagine today when our 25 year old coach asked me, as I was hopping out of the pool, what I was up to this week. I told him that my birthday was this week. "How old?" He asked. I told him, "66." He replied, "Bullsh*t. You sure don't look 66." I thanked him and silently thanked all my fellow swimmers for helping keep me young. And fit.

Or as B. said the other evening...."You might get older but you'll never get more mature." 

Now I'm off to have coffee with my friend, Ian, whose book has landed. Lucky Ian and Mariana, they got profiled on TexasMonthly.com and later this week they'll be interviewed about the book on NPR. That's cool publicity. More about the book later....