Why can't switching banks be as easy as rolling over a retirement account?

Bank facade

I thought about Bank Transfer Day while I was rolling my 401(k) into an Individual Retirement Account today.

All it took was a couple of conference calls involving myself, Vanguard (the company with whom I will have that IRA) and Mercer (the company that managed my 401(k)) and my former employer.

I was amazed at how smooth the process ran.

I got started by phoning Vanguard to open the account.

Vanguard then kept me on the line and called Mercer to ask what we needed to do for them to release the funds.

The Mercer rep gave us the contact information of the person at my former employer I needed for the final step in transferring the money.

My Vanguard rep then called her for another three-person discussion.

The entire thing took about an hour (not including the research I did before calling Vanguard to decide what funds I wanted in my IRA).

That might sound like a long time, but if you’re trying to switch banks, you know that is not nearly this painless nor short of a process.

Sure, some banks offer help and kits on what you need to do.

But could you imagine Bank of America taking a call from someone at a credit union who's helping one of its customers transfer money to a new checking account?

Good luck with that.

It seems that many big bank policies are intended to make their customers feel powerless and trapped.

They want you to think that taking your money out of their bank will be a long, complicated process you'll come to regret.

If banks worked cooperatively like Vanguard and Mercer -- who never once snipped or sniped at each other when I was taking money from one and giving it to another -- maybe more of us would be looking at them in a positive light.

Because right now, there’s no love to be found there.

So you don’t have to put up with an abusive banking relationship, and you shouldn't let the potential hassles discourage you from participating in Bank Transfer Day.

More than 51,000 people now say they're going to close their big bank checking accounts and take their money elsewhere on Nov. 5.

I think you'll find a fresh start at a credit union (or community bank) is worth it, even if it takes all day.

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