Financial Institutions

There are 3 major types of financial institutions:

A bank
A credit union
A thrift

People Who Work at a Financial Institution

Because many banking services are automated, you might not be able to get to know the people who work in a financial institution. Try not to be intimidated! The people who work there want to do business with you and are dedicated to helping you with your banking needs.

Understanding the jobs of the people who work in a financial institution will help you know whom to talk to.

Security Guard

Is stationed in the lobby or front door to protect the vault, money and other valuables from theft
Protects employees and customers from someone intending to commit a crime


Stands behind counter and takes money, cashes checks and answers questions
Refers you to the person who can help you with specialized services

Customer Service Representative

Is seated at a desk in the lobby and helps you open an account, explains services and answers questions
Refers you to a person who can help you with other services

Loan Officer

Takes applications for loans and helps you fill them out
Provides written information explaining loan products and answers questions

Branch Manager

Supervises the operations
Helps fix problems that other employees can't solve

Just Ask

When you're visiting a financial institution, feel free to ask questions to get what you need.

If you don't know who to talk to, ask for help. Someone will take you to the right person.

If you speak another language, ask for an employee who speaks your language. Many financial institutions employ multilingual staff.

Ask questions until you really understand all the information. Don't sign anything you don't understand.

Ask for written materials to take home with you. If you speak another language, request the materials written in your language. Many written materials are also published in Spanish, for example.

Choosing a Financial Institution

Use this checklist to help you choose a financial institution and the account that's right for you.

Name of financial institution
Does it offer the services I need?
Is it close to home?
Does it have reasonable hours?
Does it have ATMs? If so, are they located near where I live, work or shop?
If I am choosing a credit union, am I eligible?
Do any employees speak my language?
What, if any, fees will be charged?
How are complaints handled?
Is this financial institution insured?

Look for financial institutions that employ bilingual staff, especially if you feel more comfortable speaking your native language. Also ask your friends and relatives about financial institutions they enjoy doing business with.

Banking services


    Fannie Mae
    Freddie Mac
Ginnie Mae


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