It can be unsettling to hear that the bank you've been using to manage your business finances is being phased out or acquired by another financial institution. But in reality, bank mergers and acquisitions are fairly common. Smart institutions know how important it is to win the trust and confidence of both new and transitioning customers — and that begins with sharing knowledge.

When your bank becomes part of another financial institution, you might have questions. It's common to ask if it’s worth sticking out the transition with your new bank or head to a completely new institution instead. After all, when your business accounts (or your personal ones) are involved, you should be an engaged consumer. What you don’t want to do, however, is rush into any decisions.

To help you understand what to expect after you find out your bank is changing, follow these steps for navigating the transition.

Investigate What’s Really Changing

When one bank joins or takes over another bank, it might not change how you do your everyday banking very much. Usually, you can still go to the same local branches and get help from the same friendly people who handle small business accounts, just like before. You may notice some differences, however.

Anticipate Some Changes...

There are several common changes that occur when a bank is merged or acquired to become part of another financial institution. These include:

New account numbers and ATM cards. You'll eventually receive new account numbers and ATM cards with your new bank's name. Some minor updates may be needed in your accounting software, such as changing payment sources for bills or updating electronic funds transfer (EFT) information for clients.

Branch closures and/or a different ATM network. Sometimes, when banks merge or get acquired, they might close a branch if there are two branches nearby. But for now, you can keep using your regular bank branch. If you have a favorite banking specialist, ask if they'll still be there after the changes. Don't worry too much about ATMs – you should still have plenty of options because many banks have large networks.

Fee structure may be different than your old bank. During most transitions, there will be a grace period where your old account terms and conditions stay the same. After that, any changes will be clearly explained to you, giving you time to decide if you should switch to a different account type that suits you better, or even consider switching to a new bank altogether.

Changes to savings account interest rates. When your current bank is acquired by another one, your savings interest rates may end up being adjusted. This may be for the better if your new bank offers higher interest rates (or less cheerful if the opposite happens). It's a good idea to pay attention to the communications from both your current bank and the acquiring bank before the planned conversion takes place. Additionally, it's always important to read your monthly statements to understand how these changes may affect your accounts.

...But Don't Worry About Others

Although you'll be going through some changes, some things won't change. This includes:

CDs and mortgage/loan accounts have terms that are locked in. Interest rates and APYs will not change if your former bank is acquired. Fixed-rate loan products or CDs that have more time will carry forward their terms.

Be mindful of FDIC insurance. If you have accounts at two banks that merge, there's a chance that your combined money could exceed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) limit. But here's the good news: after the merger, your accounts will still be protected individually for six months. That means you have time to sort things out and decide if you need to move any extra money to another bank. Also, keep in mind that CDs from the acquired bank will continue to have their own insurance coverage until they mature.

Look for announcements

Expect to get communications from the new bank about the transition. The acquiring bank may even set up a website, or web portal, for customers that are part of the transition. Your new bank may also send along written materials, such as a welcome packet, through the mail ahead of the transition.

Ask questions

If you're not sure about what will happen to your current account, don't hesitate to reach out and ask. For instance, if you're used to having an account without any fees, and you're concerned those perks might change, it's important to inquire about it. You can work with your current business account support specialist or contact the new bank to schedule a call or consultation with a representative who can assist you with setting up a new account.

Should I stay or should I go?

If you choose to stay with your new bank, there are a few things you should take care of:

  • Update your bill auto-pay accounts with the new bank account number.
  • Make sure to redirect your direct deposits to the new account number.
  • Check if you need new checks for your updated account.
  • Find out if there are any changes in how you should repay your remaining loans or lines of credit from your previous bank.

If you decide to stay, the good news is that you won't have to go through the same tasks as though you were opening an entirely new account. Your information and history will transfer seamlessly to the new bank.

Ultimately, whether you choose to stay with your new bank or explore other options, updating your bill auto-pay accounts, redirecting direct deposits, checking for new checks, and understanding changes in loan repayment will be important. Be sure to take the time provided to review the pros and cons of staying.