November 12, 2007, 7:00 am

Another Round on The Great Bank Debate

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Banks and You
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Customers Revenge answered back my post on The Bank Debate Is On. We are trying to explain the important but still vague responsibilities carried by major banks in Canada. He pointed out some interesting stuff about who should take care of of what.
In fact, he mainly believes that banks should be responsible for customers in regards to investing and taking care of their personal finance. Sorry boy, banks aren’t your daddy or your mommy, you have grown up and you have to take care of yourself 😉Answering some quotes

“In your last post you said that I mistakenly believe banks have high obligations and that I should reduce my expectations, comparing them to grocers. If you said that before then I can’t believe that a week later you believe banks exist to stabilize the economy. They are still here only to make money, just like the grocers. Anything “extra” they do, including managing risk, is only done because regulators force it.”

In fact, Banks have a high responsibility to stabilize the economy and protect clients from any fluctuations incurred within the banking system. This does not mean that they are responsible to show you how to handle your money. Therefore, you should lower your expectation in term of investment advices and money management (which are provided by banks but you have to request and pay for those services) and know that bank’s major responsibilities when you have a bank account and a loan is to make sure that you have access to your money and that economic forces will not make them call back your loan for reasons that are beyond your power. I am glad that CR mentioned that he experienced a short, but great experience with an individual banker who was providing great money advices. Those resources are limited in banks and they are provided to people that are obviously able to afford them. It is sad to say, but we are living in a capitalist country, people with money have access to better service. Banks are providing stability and security to everybody, if you expect more, you will have to pay for it. I was not too familiar with the TD Bank example he mentioned in 2002 but did ever the TD penalized his clients for their risk management mistakes? However, they surely penalized their shareholders 😉

“Another example is the habit of selling loans”

In this part of his article, CR mentions that banks are putting back the risk in the market as they are packaging loans and selling them to a third party. My question is the following: If this financial product sucks, then why would you buy it? There is a reason why banks are selling away their loan and it is quite simple: it is because people are willing to buy them. They think that making money is as easy then lending at a high interest rate and collect your charges every month. Banks were willing to take the risk of lending to people who did not qualify but still desperately wanted to have loan. If people can not make their monthly instalments, the bank will loose money because it did not assess the risk properly and the client will loose their house because they do not know how to count up to ten. It is too easy to blame banks for ones misfortune or miscalculation. The truth is that several individuals simply ignore their financial health until they can not make their payments any longer.

“The point is that it doesn’t matter how they make other portions of their money. We’re talking about how they make money from the relatively helpless retail customers”.

This one made me laugh a lot. How come retail customers are so helpless? Maybe you are telling me that they are not able (read lazy) to shop around and gather information before they make a choice? Before I started working for a bank I did not have much personal financial knowledge. Nonetheless, I went on every bank’s website to look around which kind of products they were offering in order to find the ones that suits my situation. Banks are making a ton of money on interest they charge to clients. Well duh! It’s is part of their business model. It’s like blaming your mechanic for making 300% profit on the motor piece he just replaced on your car. You needed your car to work, here is the price. It is up to you to pay it or not. You want a loan? here is the price, it’s up to you to take it or not. Many people think that obtaining credit is a right, in fact, obtaining credit is a privilege and you must pay the price. Banks are not meant to determine if you should take the loan or not, they simply have to determine if you qualify within their parameters of lending.

A quick advice

I can appreciate CR’s concerns in regards to the poor service he may have received from banks or bankers. As previously discussed, their economic situation (oligopoly) does not encourage to have their teller to go above and beyond in term of services. However, they do provide high level of service for clients with a strong net worth or with several products. If you are not able to get them at your bank, I would suggest that you start looking for an independent financial consultant, financial planner, financial advisor or whatever they may call themselves. As they are making their money based on different criterions, they may be able to help you out managing your personal finance. However, the research process requires a lot of time and energy in order to find the good one. Good luck to all!

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“and the client will lose their house because they do not know how to count up to ten.”

Very funny line – and very accurate too!

I agree with you – CR seems to think that banks should be more socialist than they actually are. They are in the business of making money – just like any other business.


by: The Financial Blogger | November 12th, 2007 (6:18 pm)

FP, you said it all in one line : “They are in the business of making money – just like any other business.”