The remarkably powerful ways USAA innovated changing banks
At some point in life, you’re likely to want, or even need, to make a change in the bank you use. But do you find yourself putting it off because it seems overly complicated? I discussed that recently in my article, Changing Banks is so stupid easy you need to stop avoiding it but I want to take it one step further and encourage you to consider switching to USAA for your banking. Why? Because they are a leader in making banking easier and more customer-focused – and it starts from Day 1 with them.
As a member of USAA, I had the opportunity to speak to my friends there about USAA’s Changing Banks process. You may not be a member of USAA and wonder what it is or you may be a member but have yet to experience the USAA Changing Banks system. Whatever the case, I’ve got some great takeaways from my conversation with Jonathan Velazquez, Accountable Director Product Management, Cisco Iguaran, Product Management Director, and Annette Mumme, Product Management Director from USAA.
But before I get to what we discussed, let’s cover…
What is USAA and who is it for?
USAA is a financial institution that focuses on banking and insurance needs primarily for our military and their families. It began in 1922 by the military and for the military as an insurance company. Today it is one of the largest banks in the entire U.S. that focusses on helping the military and their financial security.
Who qualifies for USAA membership?
All Active Duty, Reserve and Retired U.S. Military, veterans and their family members. So, if your father served in the military and was a member of USAA, you are eligible to also become a member (even if you’ve never personally served.) You can always visit usaa.com to determine eligibility.
Now let’s talk about when and why you should consider switching to USAA…
What life events might lead to someone wanting to change banks in the first place?
At USAA, they see most people needing to make a bank change as a result of a significant life event, such as:
- Permanent Change of Station (PCS)
- Temporary Duty (TDY)
- College Graduation
- Job move
- New job
- Separation from the military to civilian life
And, of course, there is always the money factor. You may have realized that you could be with a bank where you’d actually earn a little interest – or at minimum – at least eliminate fees you’re currently paying.
But why consider switching to USAA above other options – aren’t all banks the same?
In short – no. No doubt you are familiar with the mobile technology that allows you to take a picture of a check and deposit it directly into a bank. This is one of the innovations that USAA came up with and had patented. This is just one example of how USAA makes banking better for their members.
Just like being the first in mobile check deposit, USAA is the first to provide members with a one-stop solution to change all their necessary information from one banking institution to them. With this ability and the personal attention all USAA members receive, USAA has worked very hard to make changing to them a smooth process both on their mobile and .com platform.
They personally walk you through the Changing Banks experience every step of the way by:
First chatting with and making inquiries of the new member to get a full understanding of their financial position, what they’re looking to do, and why. USAA wants to understand each individual new member and their financial needs and goals so they can best guide them through changing to USAA smoothly.
Then, USAA helps sync up the customer’s current bank information with USAA so that USAA can guide them through the process of changing over all aspects of the member’s finances, including items like:
- Moving their Direct Deposits from their employer (civilian) or their DFAS Mypay (military) to their new USAA checking or savings account. USAA facilitates this experience by collecting the information needed from the member. Then it takes the necessary steps to help the member make a smooth and friction-free transition. In nearly every case, this can be done completely automatically, removing the need for the member to submit paperwork manually.
- Transferring money from their old account to their new USAA account electronically. This is all done at the direction of the member and in their timing. It can be a little at a time over a few months or large chunks within a few weeks. The new member is in full control.
- Making a list of all bills and automatic payments. USAA identifies ongoing expenses and bills and helps make the member a list of bills based on their transactions over the last 45 days from the member’s old bank. USAA even categorizes them. Members then decide if they would like to add these bills to USAA Pay Bills or simply use the list as a reference. Members can also add additional bills not listed with just the biller name, account number, and billing zip code.
In these and any other needs a member has, USAA works closely with the member in real time during the changing banks process. This ground-breaking system of transitioning banks for members has been a result of USAA listening to their member's needs, finding a solution, and then implementing those solutions. With the idea of helping to create great experiences for its members, USAA developed Changing Banks in order to alleviate the pain members experienced when trying to change their bank accounts.
USAA continues to innovate and in the future, plan to add to their Changing Banks system:
- A solution to help their members stay on top of quarterly, semi-annually or annual payments that need to be transferred to USAA. Such payments may be missed in the initial changing over process. Payments like these often get forgotten about until someone is hit with a notice of insufficient funds, late fees, or other charges. We don’t want to see that happen to our members, says USAA.
- The ability to capture a picture of a bill and have the information automatically input into the USAA Bill Pay system. The idea here is to save our members from having to manually input all this information. This makes adding an automatic payment faster than ever.
Check out the specifics on checking, savings, and all the other things that USAA offers by going to the FAQs at USAA.
My heartfelt thanks go out to Jonathan, Cisco, and Annette from USAA for sharing the innovative benefits of banking with USAA and for USAA’s sponsorship and support of our website and podcast.