Dear Kin Lian,
I read you blog with interest everyday and after hearing about this fiasco with the minibonds. I am glad that I had left the banking sector many years ago. I have no interests in any of the minibonds. Things may have changed now, but I would like to relate my experience as a RM in a local bank then.
I personally feel that banks should try not to sell so many different types of financial products to the mass market.
This should be done by the broking housings as they are more equiped to do so. Anyway back to my experience.
During the haydays when units trust were just being introduced to the markets, I remember Aberdeen Global Tech Fund was trading about 1.90+ many banks were scrambling to earn commission given by the fund houses. (There was an upfront sales charge of 5%, how much given to the bank, I am not sure.) Banks were flushed with Fixed Deposits and management was very short sighted. why? Because it was a liability for the bank to hold fixed deposits.
As bank sales staff, we were like attending fund launches almost every week. The product manager would come in, talk a little about the fund and give us sales target. Also started to say what customers are suited. With sales target, what does it mean? It means you need to milk you customers. We were given customers details especially those that were going to expire and also made to stay after work to make calls to them to `recommend' them this product.
Well, as sales people, we can't argue right. We were employed to do sales. How we achieve it is not they problem, just sell and be rewarded with commissions. But at the same time, we were named Financial Planner. What about this?
I remember that there was this time that the bank was selling `capital protected' funds. Of course we knew that Capital Protected is a marketing gimmick. Your capital is protected less certain charges.
Anyway, I was in mass market sales. There was a bank staff that managed to persuade a customer to place SGD 2.5 milllion in the fund.(Guess what, the fund total size was 50 mil) Any financial planner would know that is not the way. It would be best to diversify to Cash account, Fixed Deposits, Equity funds, etc). We were like shocked when we heard this.
One more point to add, usually bank sales staff have a limited time to do sales and they are taught to close the seal in the shortest time possible. (We were actually taught to close a `long term saving plan' in 15 minutes.(which is actually an insurance plan) I am not against this, but wouldn't it be better to take some more time to explain to customer if she/he actually needs this?
Let me say again, this happened many years ago. I don't know whether is it the same. If you are saying that banks had introduced the FNA (Financial Needs Analysis) signed by the customer, let me ask you one thing, WAS IT DONE PROPERLY? Do you think the aunties and uncles who do not speak English know what this document is about? I can tell you they just sign the document based on the trust of the bank or the sales staff.
This is all I have to say. Thank god I left that industry.
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