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Fee basics

What should I be considering when it comes to fees?

From the potential cost benefits of bringing all your finances over to one bank, to being cautious of 'free banking' promotions, our experts share some thoughts, and what to keep in mind.

Fees. We all look at them. Whether it’s comparing prices at the grocery store, cruising around town to find the best price to fill up our gas tank, or surfing the web at 2 a.m. to land that stellar vacation deal.


Giselle Pieczonka, Relationship Manager, Cash Management at CWB’s Winnipeg Banking Centre, says she regularly gets questions about fees, particularly from clients who only have one or two products with the bank. She adds something she notices often though is that clients will zero in on each fee individually or independently, but might not have a good understanding of what they’re paying in total – something that’s really good to know if you’re dealing with multiple financial institutions, because those costs can sneak up on you.


“I could take a look at what someone is paying overall across a number of different institutions and see that they’re paying $500 a month in service charges,” says Pieczonka. “And they had no idea. So then there’s a bit of complacency in not knowing that there’s anything better out there, or potentially how much you could save in fees if you were to bring everything under one bank.”


Assistant Vice President, Business Development Trevor Palmer, who’s based out of CWB’s Leduc Banking Centre in Alberta builds on this last point. “While, yes, there’s effort involved in moving everything to one bank, putting the whole thing in one place brings efficiencies, and when it comes to fees is likely the best deal overall,” he says.


Both Palmer and Pieczonka invite clients to consider not only how much they’re paying in fees but also the value they’re getting from those service charges.


“I’ll sometimes hear folks say, but banks make a lot of money, you shouldn’t be charging fees. But there’s actually an economy of scale there – banks actually aren’t making a lot from interest. The service fees are for our time and expertise. If the fee is the number one thing driving you away, I would caution against that,” says Palmer.


Pieczonka also says to be careful when there are promises of free banking and no monthly charges, because often those fees are hidden elsewhere and that nickel and diming can add up to a more sizable cost.


“It’s completely natural for people to get stuck on pricing. We get that, we’re all human. But that’s not all there is,” she says. “You need to consider the service and support you want or need that’s associated with that fee and how that all lines up. The value of the relationship and the quality of the advice is sometimes overlooked, but it can play a huge role in your success. And really, at the end of the day that’s what we want for you – to be successful.”


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