It is getting more and more difficult to deal with banks.
In the last year one major bank has closed down our company account because they simply do not want to offer corporate bank accounts to any company which turns over less than BD30 million. How do you manage to remain one of the world’s biggest retail banks when you decide to ditch all of your SME’s? We also had a personal sterling account with the same bank but it was so difficult keeping our passport, cpr and residence permits information up to date that we just closed it.
Having to provide all the same information to our daily working banks is also a pain. I have a bank account in Cyprus and they have just sent me a load of forms to fill in needing to know everything about me right down to inside leg measurements. The banks justify these excessive requests for information as a Know Your Customer process which they need to satisfy money laundering regulations. I have news for you, many years ago when I left school and got my first job, I needed a bank account. My father took me to his bank and introduced me to the manager who helped me open an account. From that point on I developed a relationship with the bank manager and his staff which helped me through many loans for cars, mortgages and my first business. The bank was in the high street of my local town and they did not need to implement a Know Your Customer process because they already knew all their customers. They also knew that if there was an unusual transaction on the account they probably already had the explanation because we talked to them all the time. You could phone the bank and get put straight through. In those days the banks did not charge you for having an account. They made their money from the difference between the interest rates they charged borrowers and rates they offered savers.
It all changed in 1987 when the UK removed much of the banking legislation in a process called the big bang. Freed up from sensible legislation the banks got greedy, charges for servicing your account was only the beginning. They closed down most of the high street banks and opened up call centres in cheaper countries so that when you called no one knew you or your history and sometimes even your language. Previously when I wanted a loan to buy a car I spoke to the manager who knew I was good for it and it was a simple process. Now unless I can tick every box on the anonymous call centre operative’s sheet you have no chance.
Then with the advent of the Internet we have to do it all online. However if you have had a bank account in the UK for 40 years and apply for an online ID, but live outside the UK, forget it. I have bank accounts that I cannot access unless I go to one of the few remaining branches which are not situated in my home town but in a big city.
And heaven help you if you turn up at a branch with a wad of cash you want to deposit. You need to provide all sorts of evidence of where the cash came from, so if you win big at poker you need to stash it in a shoebox under the bed. It is my belief now that banks view us customers as a nuisance and they would rather do without us.
Market opportunity for someone to open a bank the way they used to be.