The Increase In Bank Fees: Is This Reflective Of The Customer Experience?

Alison Weekes, Fifs, MSc, Int.Dip.Comp Banking & Compliance Professional UK

I note with interest the various comments in relation to the announcement of the increase in bank fees by First Caribbean International Bank. We will in the coming months, see whether the strategic plans and income structure of the other competing financial services firms in Barbados will dictate that they too will have to increase their fees.

One wonders where`s the customer’s place in all of this. A fundamental in the business of banking is the nature of the banker-customer relationship. Traditionally, it was believed that ‘the customer is king’, where has this value now gone? It can be asked whether the Financial Services Institutions that are increasing their fees have actually considered the experience their customers have when transacting business with them and whether this is commensurate with the hike in fees.

Effective handling of customer complaints is fundamental to a firm’s ability to provide a satisfactory service and ensuring the ultimate customer experience.

In continuance with their treating customer fairly focus and to ensure clean and orderly markets, the UK Financial Services Authority published its review of the handling of customer complaints in banks in summer 2010. The FSA heightened the regulatory requirement for banks to place increased focus on the quality of service to the customer to ensure that they are treated fairly. Who ensures the customer is treated fairly by Banks in Barbados?

An approach to justify the increased fees would be to introduce a mechanism or benchmarks to ensure that the banks are made accountable for the quality of service they provide. Senior management are committed to increasing rates, where necessary, to satisfy their income structures which is understandable. However, to maintain transparency and confidence in the banking sector, they should also be required to evidence how engaged they are in the delivery of improvements  of service and real value for money to customers. This is probably a focus that the regulators in Barbados could consider if they want to maintain confidence in this segment of the market.  The time old retort moral suasion does not redound to the customers who are saddled with high fees.

  • The notion of “The customer is king” does not apply to these Ali Baba- typed business people known as Bankers.These vampires and parasites contiue to suck the living day light out of its customers through all these usuary charges and fees to support their high-paying , lazy, …good for nothing pen pushers… managers and executives.

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  • One good reason for checking out Kentucky Fried Chicken (or the other place’s) prices year by year is that you will get a real feel has to how your money is devaluing over time. The fast foods hiked their prices by fifteen percent at the start of last year and proceeded to hike them again by closer to 20%. These operations are tuned into some international standard of real value, perhaps some mean measurement of the value of a basket of precious metals, what ever it is, it has shown drastic movement over the last fer years. A piece of breast now costs over SIX dollars…! I am worried.

    Maybe the fast food operations and the banks are tuned into something that the rest of us should be interested in …. and could this have something to do with the plummeting value of the US dollar and all other pegged and surrounding currencies? Why has there been this mad rush by companies big enough to advertise on networks to convert cash to gold?

    Some are saying that something BIG will happen next year … I got a hunch …!

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  • While looking casually through one of the local papers on Wednesday 18th February 2009, I happened to notice my name on a First Caribbean Int. Bank advertisment listing ‘Unclaimed Balances’.
    This despite absolutely NO written notification and being mostly in daily contact with the bank and branch.
    Since then I have been trying to get the bank to return my monies including being in communication with several persons within the bank including the Managing Director, Kevin Farmer.
    Nearly TWO years later MY monies have not been returned and First Caribbean continues to blame the Central Bank of Barbados.
    Meanwhile, First Caribbean put their charges up (in most cases way beyond the rate of inflation) during the worst global recession for eighty years, when just about every expert believes that SMALL businesses will be instrumental in economy recovery.

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  • @Adrian

    The name is Daniel Farmer.

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  • We will soon have to return to the old habit of putting your money on an old tot and digging a hole under a particular tree and burying it, or tying it in $1oo.00 amounts and hitting it in the mattress

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  • The US is on the verge of losing it’s reserve status, if it does not turn around it’s devaluation. It is currently enjoying it’s reserve status and is printing money left right and centre to pay it’s loans.

    There are indicators that this is having an effect on the “value” of it’s currency and other countries are getting antsy about trading with the US dollar.

    Beware, it seems as though the US is going to be for a rough ride when it’s reserve status is lost – maybe it is time to peg our dollar to euro.

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  • @ The Scout:

    You would have to bury gold, because that paper would be worthless.

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  • Just to clarify, banker bonuses in Barbados are not like what you see on CNN for the big US banks. Bonuses here are must more modest and are fractions of salary as opposed to being bigger than salary.

    Re: Farmer at FCIB. I understand from some former colleagues at FCIB that this youngster was hired with no banking experience to run the biggest bank in the island. He work a short time at Citibank but that’s not the same type of commercial bank. He has no experience and people there don’t understand how a 30 year old kid could get a job like that ahead of many experienced bankers at FCI.

    No wonder the mishandling of these fee increase.

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  • Adrian L

    If you have been unable to get any action on your request from local authorities at FCIB, try writing to the Chairman Gerard McCaughey of CIBC.

    That should get the ball rolling

    http://www.cibc.com/ca/inside-cibc/executive-teams/mccaughey.html

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  • We bajans too stupid! Instead of tekking wee money outta dis stinking bank FCIB we does only mek nuff noise.

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  • Sargeant,

    Thank you and I will try via that route.
    My apologies to Mr. Farmer for referring to him at Kevin.
    Mr DANIEL Farmer’s problem seems to be delegation. He passes down problems but does not ensure they are followed through by lesser mortals.

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  • Please tell me that Mr Farmer is of Mandarin ancestry or Pakistani or Amerindian or Afro-Caribbean … Maybe that would explain how someone so young and so without the relevant quals could land such a big post in these parts …!

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  • The increase in bank fees is reflective of the global financial scam and has nothing to do with customer experience one way or the other. The local banks are usu. headqaurtered elsewhere and they have to answer to a ‘higher’ authority, not to the locals they fleece.

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  • All the banks have varying issues of customer service, but my observation over the past 5 years is that First Caribbean is the worst of the lot. This is based on personal experience as well as regular interaction with people who do business with this bank. One of FCIB’s main problem is that a lot of the decision-making that ought to be done at branch level is centralised; however the centralised decision-makers are often very tardy or are difficult to reach at times. By now having these ridiculous fees they show they do not care much about their customers.

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  • Earlier today I had a call from First Caribbean to state my confiscated funds are now available for collection.
    Oh! the power of the Blogs and I wonder if its because Mr. DANIEL Farmer reads them?Thank You.

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