Friday, January 8, 2010

Have Bank Mangagers merely become 'fluffers' for their Financial Planning Consultants?

A client of mine lodged a six figure sum in her AIB current account just before Christmas. Within 48 hours the bank manager was on to her acknowledging the lodgement and asking if she had any 'plans' for the money. The client is savvy enough to recognise what she would consider to be a genuine interest in her finances and what was a sales pitch. The client told the manager that she had 'plans' for the money and the telephone conversation ended. The client subsequently received a letter from the bank manager listing '..some Deposit Options for consideration.'

As I understand it, AIB are under pressure to take in as much deposit money as possible as it is their principal source of funding at the moment. The bank says that they are continuing to "target a progressive reduction in their loan to deposit ratios" and that they are selling some assets as part of an ongoing strategy to successfully unlock "shareholder equity for its core business activities". Last time I checked, 'core activities' meant 'Deposit Taking' and 'Lending' not 'Holistic' Financial Planning.

I'm finding it difficult to reconcile what they are saying and what they are doing. If they are so anxious to take money in via Deposits, why are they continuing to use their deposit base as a gravy train for the investment products that they offer through AVIVA?

The letter that I mentioned above, titled "Deposit Options", also contained the following paragraph : "Ideally we recommend you to meet with Financial Planning Consultant who will cover off all the options available including some long term funds with potential to outperform Deposits."

Seriously; have the Bank Managers merely become 'fluffers' for their Financial Planning Consultants?

The use of the words "all the options available" suggests that the Financial Planning Consultant might recommend a Deposit Account, perhaps with another institution, that is offering a higher rate of interest. It also implies that the Consultant may recommend an investment product from all the options available on the market. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Consultant would either recommend an AIB Deposit Account, an AVIVA Investment Product or a combination of both. They don't recommend the more competitive products available elsewhere on the market.

I think that it's about time that someone took them to task on the way that they present themselves to their customers. It is about time that they were banned from the 'sharing' of Deposit Account holder information with their Investment Salesmen/women. It is also a pity that the Department of Finance did not make some reference to the movement of Deposits with Banks to Investments with linked companies, when they decided to Recapitalise the Banks last February.


Bob Quinn said...

Hi Gerard,

I agree with your sentiments, but let's face it, we work in an industry that is great at covering its own tracks.
You hit the nail on the head when you said your client knows a sales call when she hears one. The more people that approach their 'relationship managers' and bank managers with the same reluctance as a sales assistant in a car showroom, the better!
There is also a great need for more transparent checks and balances in this industry. I have tried to present some through Hope it's of help to some.

Gerard said...

As an ex 'Bank' Financial Planning Consultant, would you agree that the their system of doing Investment & Pension Business is more about 'profit' than about the best interests of the client?

Bob Quinn said...

Banks are profit driven.

So who comes first?