Weekend Reading: Incompetent Banking Edition

Banks are staying open longer to meet the needs of their busy customers, offering extended weekday hours and opening on weekends. You’d like to think they’d be able to deliver the same level of service during those off-peak hours, but my experience suggested otherwise.

My daughter and I walked into a TD branch Saturday afternoon looking to open a children’s savings account. We happened to be in the neighbourhood and had some time to kill. Well, that time was quickly wasted during this brief exchange with the teller:

  • Me: Hi there, I’d like to open a savings account for my daughter.
  • Teller: Yes we can help you. You’ll have to make an appointment with one of our advisors.
  • Me: I can’t just open the account now?
  • Teller: Sorry ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Later I shared my frustration on Twitter, where many of my followers echoed similar experiences with not just TD but all the big banks in Canada:

It’s extremely disappointing that in 2018 I can’t open a simple savings account online, let alone when I walk into an empty branch on a Saturday afternoon. My nine-year-old doesn’t need to see an advisor – there’s no hope of upselling her a loan. C’mon, guys. Get your act together.

Weekend Reading Incompetent Banking Edition

Why though?!?

This Week’s Recap:

This week I brought attention to some of the most lucrative bank account promotions on the market today and, after checking under the hood, I explained why they’re not such a great deal for consumers looking to score a deal.

My Smart Money column at the Toronto Star looked at three ways to save on foreign currency conversion fees when you travel or shop online.

Many thanks to CBC’s Sophia Harris for interviewing me for her latest piece on Aeroplan. This week the loyalty program offered a glimpse into what their new program might look like beyond June 2020 when its long-time partnership with Air Canada ends. My thoughts: The new program sounds promising but many unanswered questions remain about the value of miles going forward.

Promo of the Week:

I used to pay to get my credit score from Equifax every few years to keep tabs on my score and look over my credit report. It cost around $25 a pop. Today you can get your credit score for free from online lenders such as Borrowell.

Checking your credit score with Borrowell is considered a ‘soft inquiry’ so it won’t affect your score. I make sure to check my credit score every few months, mainly because I tend to apply for a lot of credit cards and want to see how that affects my score (the answer is each credit card application lowers my score by about 10 points). I also look over my credit report to check for any inaccuracies.

My credit score usually hovers between 720 and 775. That’s not considered an ‘excellent’ score, but I’ve never had any issues obtaining credit or getting the best rate on my mortgage or other loans.

Weekend Reading:

Here’s the credit card churning secret: How to travel the world for free without ever damaging your credit score.

The federal Liberals announced that starting this month the Canada Child Benefit will be indexed to keep pace with the cost of living.

Also read: How families can get more from Canada’s Child Benefit.

This money diary post on the Refinery blog got the internet a-buzzing. It’s written by a young marketing intern in New York whose parents pay her $2,100/month rent and dole out another $1,100/month for living expenses.

A millennial reader asks PWL Capital’s Ben Felix whether she should go with Wealthsimple when she starts to invest.

Speaking of Wealthsimple, in his latest edition of Common Sense Investing Ben Felix tackles the topic of robo-advisors:

A Wealth of Common Sense blogger Ben Carlson wonders if expensive SUVs are ruining retirement savings?

Inflows into passive investments have slowed. Barry Ritholtz explains why index funds are going to be just fine.

Here’s Nick Maggiulli on rethinking how to view your time – the most important asset.

Equally as brilliant, Morgan Housel on optimism vs. complacency vs. pessimism:

Those are the three types of risk mindsets in the world:

  • Those who know stuff breaks and attempt to survive the breaks long enough to experience the eventual growth that occurs when people learn and improve from the breaks.
  • Those who think stuff doesn’t break and are broken when it does.
  • Those whose experience being broken leads them to believe there’s no such thing as eventual growth.

Optimist, complacentist, pessimist.

Warren Buffett has donated roughly $3.4 billion of Berkshire Hathaway stock to five charities, most of which is going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A lesser known billionaire – former energy trader John Arnold – has also signed the Giving Pledge and promised to donate the bulk of his wealth to charity.

He retired at 52 with a $3 million net worth — here’s what a week of his spending looks like.

It’s easy to fail at personal finance. Here’s what smart rich people do with their nest egg.

A wife fears her husband’s retirement will destroy their happiness:

“I am afraid I will quickly become resentful of having to go to the office every day while he enjoys a never-ending vacation. I know I should not think this way, and I am sure a lot of women married to older husbands somehow find ways to accept this kind of arrangement, but what if I can’t?”

Finally, Global’s Erica Alini takes an in-depth look at reverse mortgages and asks if this is the solution if you retire cash-poor?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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  1. Ryan on July 22, 2018 at 6:24 am

    “There no’s hope of upselling her a loan.” Trust me, the banks will find a way.

    • Robb Engen on July 22, 2018 at 9:44 am

      Ha! No doubt they’d try 🙂

    • Richard on July 22, 2018 at 11:17 am

      Go online to Tangerine
      account open in 5 mins no fees
      Bob’s your uncle!

    • Bella on July 22, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      Maybe you should stop to think about it! Perhaps if someone was available they could have opened it. Do you walk into a full-service doctors office and expect to see a doctor because it’s convenient for you? Like it or not people a bank is also a business with professionals who have booked appointments as well as do their best to serve clients without appointments They can’t perform magic every day

      • Matt on July 22, 2018 at 8:37 pm

        I am with Bella. The banks are busy. Make an appointment.

        • AndrewG on July 22, 2018 at 9:00 pm

          Bella, Matt –
          1. I suspect you do not work in a sales organization. Do not kid yourselves, the bank’s front line staff are all sales people. Also, there is nothing wrong with that.
          2. All customer engagements are opportunities for upsells. Kids opening a savings account is an opportunity to sell resp portfolios or even build a more personal relationship with the bank. Good personal relationships establish trust and inevitably continued business.
          3. Doctors are not like sales people, nor bankers. The more people doctors they see the more they make. Also, doctors I suspect make much more than front line banking staff and they tend to be running a more personally lucrative business.

  2. GYM on July 22, 2018 at 7:27 am

    Such a great collection of articles to read! I had no idea the 50 something year old retiree John is ESI Money!!

    Sucks that you had that experience and that no “advisor” just came out from their office to help you and your daughter out.

    The week of Money from the NYC girl that hit the Internet by storm was an entertaining read but I was shocked at the entitlement oozing from her entries. Including a part where she said “#blessed” for having her parents dole out her monthly rent.

    • Robb Engen on July 22, 2018 at 9:46 am

      Hi GYM, thanks! Yeah, the money diary was interesting and I’m sure Refinery got their money’s worth from all the hate-reading.

  3. Chester555 on July 22, 2018 at 7:45 am

    Scotiabank offers a free credit score on their app now. It’s great. I can see how it changes as I pay off debt and can check it as many times as I want.

    • Robb Engen on July 22, 2018 at 9:47 am

      Hi Chester, that’s great to hear – thanks for sharing. I’m sure if TD offered free credit scores you’d have to make an appointment with an advisor so they could ‘walk you through it’ in detail 🙂

    • mm on July 22, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      Mogo is another one that offers free credit scores. They update it once a month and send you an email to alert you that it has been updated. You need to sign up for the service but don’t need to have an account.

  4. Amrit on July 22, 2018 at 7:56 am

    Whether the service is for a 9 year old or 39 year old, the process is often the same. There are services that go hand-in-hand with the account, such as getting a bank card and online banking set-up. This can take a bit of time and I think this is why a teller isn’t given this responsibility and an appointment is booked.

    • Panda on July 22, 2018 at 9:31 am

      Still ridiculous…I have encountered this with my children at TD and CIBC. If they are going to require this, there should be someone available who can actually serve their customers.

  5. Doug on July 22, 2018 at 9:24 am

    As Amrit mentioned, there is more to it than just clicking a button. A profile is constructed, the account and card are created, procedures are followed, anti-money laundering policies are adhered to. There would be even more if it wasn’t for a nine year-old. Is it super convenient? No. But you can blame the fraudsters and criminals who filter through every branch of every bank, every single day.
    I’m sure that will probably fall on deaf ears, but it is tough to take away people’s hate-ons for banks.

    • Robb Engen on July 22, 2018 at 9:53 am

      C’mon Doug. I get that there’s a process and I wasn’t asking them to snap their fingers and – poof – the account is open. As Panda mentioned, why bother staying open during the evening and on weekends if the staff working those hours cannot help. Otherwise call it “full service banking M-F (by appointment only).”

      • Gordon on July 22, 2018 at 10:27 am

        With all due respect, your logic seems flawed. If you go into a restaurant and they are at capacity because other people have taken the time to make reservations ahead of time (and frankly, following through with their commitment to the restaurant), would you go and write about on your blog just because you couldn’t get service? I’m sure that if an advisor was not otherwise committed, they would have been happy to assist you.

        • Robb Engen on July 22, 2018 at 10:47 am

          Hi Gordon, I would understand if they were at capacity. I’m not being unreasonable. This was a Saturday afternoon and the branch was empty. The only two employees (that I could see) could not assist me in opening a basic savings account. How is this full-service banking?

          Meanwhile, I just opened a Children’s Savings Account online with Tangerine in less than 10 minutes. How? According to Tangerine, they already had the information they needed on file and all they required was my daughter’s name and SIN. Yes, banking can be that easy.

      • Guy in Calgary on July 23, 2018 at 3:18 pm

        Tellers cannot open accounts because if there is heavy traffic, one gets tied down for 25 minutes opening an account and asking AML questions. It makes sense why they cannot. In those off hours, there is usually one banker working. It is generally expected that people make appointments as is the expectation with when meeting with anyone. Raking the bank over the coals for this seems a little petty.

        • Robb Engen on July 23, 2018 at 3:54 pm

          Let me set the stage for you. I live in West Lethbridge and it is the fastest growing community in our city, but had no services for the longest time. Then, a few years ago, ALL the major banks decided to open up shop on the west side.

          Problem is, while many people live on the west side, they mostly work downtown or south. The branches get no traffic, and often have the manager or an advisor performing double duty at the counter.

          I have no doubt that when I walked into that branch someone working there was qualified to help me, and there were no other customers around!

          I get it, if the process takes an hour then you might be short-staffed. But fix the process!

          My daughter might be a Tangerine customer for life simply because Tangerine could do in 10 minutes (online) what TD couldn’t do face-to-face at a branch.

          Am I being petty? Maybe. But these banks make billions of dollars in profit every quarter, have a huge network of branches across the country, and yet can’t perform a simple task without “making an appointment”. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable to expect a bit of service.

          Big banks hide behind compliance, yet online banks and robo-advisors follow the same compliance and still allow you to open an account online. The AML question was two questions (yes or no)!

    • Gin on July 22, 2018 at 12:03 pm

      Last time I needed to do a wire transfer to pay a timeshare levy (< $1000) outside of the country, I was made to feel like I was doing something criminal: I needed to provide 'proof' of a physical address of where the money was being sent. Criminals were laundering millions in BC casinos, while I was left feeling like a criminal for paying a legitimate bill of < $1000. Where is the sense in that?

  6. Birgit on July 22, 2018 at 9:42 am

    Open up an online account with Tangerine. No bank visits needed. Even though they are owned by Scotiabank they still don’t charge any banking fees and pay higher interest.

    • Robb Engen on July 22, 2018 at 10:01 am

      Hi Brigit, this was my naive attempt at a teaching moment for my daughter so she can deposit her $130 in change at an actual physical bank branch rather than doing it virtually where she might not be able to make the connection between her money and her bank account.

      Next stop, Tangerine!

      • Robb Engen on July 22, 2018 at 10:48 am

        Update: Opened the account with Tangerine online in less than 10 minutes. Done and done.

  7. Judy on July 22, 2018 at 9:44 am

    My husband decided that he would like another chequing account. We use Coast Capital for insurance, so he figured why not try Coast Capital Savings for a chequing account. He applied using their online tool. Key points: he is retired with reasonably high net worth AND reasonably high net income from investments AND no debt. He was rejected – no reason other than “we have a whole bunch of criteria and you didn’t meet one of them”. We will not be renewing our insurance with them. I complained on Facebook, and one of their representatives tried to get him to call her, but he refused. There are other financial institutions that would be more than happy to hold his money for him.

    • Robb Engen on July 22, 2018 at 10:05 am

      Hi Judy, thanks for sharing that story as it sort of flies in the face of how credit unions are perceived to be more accessible and have better service.

      I don’t know if the industry just hides behind regulations as the reason for their complacency but this industry is ripe for disruption if companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google want to get into banking.

  8. Lynda Williams on July 22, 2018 at 11:16 am

    My son had the exact experience 5 years ago when he was going off to university. He had an account at coast capital but I wanted him to open a td account thinking it would be easier to transfer money and more convenient as there are more branches/cash machines.
    No luck. He had to make an appointment to see an advisor and had nothing available for 10 days…ugh. Walked across the street to Scotia bank and they did it then and there. Sister set up an account as well that same week. Got that scene card with movie points. With how hard the banks are looking for new customers and how customers are reluctant to switch you would think they would at least get you started on the paperwork.

  9. Bob on July 22, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    We all have to stop thinking of a bank as some institution that we have to prove ourselves to. They are like any other business, they have to earn our patronage.
    Too many are still intimidated by banks and I believe banks try to use this on us.
    Once you have been in business for yourself, you see the real bank, not a pleasant site at all.
    You did the correct thing, just go to another bank. And when they screw up, as they all do, change your bank again. Hard fact of life but extremely important lesson for your daughter- do not put your faith in one bank

  10. Kevin on July 22, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    My wife and I had the same experience with TD. All we wanted was a safety deposit box. What a pain in the ass they are!! We already had a very large line of credit, an still wanted us to skip through hoops. Even when we need access to the box its a bloody run around Screw TD Canada Trust.. Their service is horrible. I have been with Presidents choice since they opened because I got fed up paying ridiculous bank fees back in the nineties. Also open with ING now called Tangerine. Best two banks I have ever dealt with and no complaints about either one. Although since Scotia took over ING -phone service is a lot slower- other then that the service has been outstanding at both PC and Tangerine. No problems opening accounts–done in a few minutes and great service.

  11. Rob on July 23, 2018 at 7:16 am

    We moved three-ish years ago from CIBC to TD, but now have several accounts at Tangerine as well. I have to say, as frustrating as I found CIBC, TD has disappointed me consistently on the banking side, including and especially the shabby level of integration with the brokerage side. I took a lot of self-serve options for granted at CIBC thinking all the banks had those options, and I’ve been sorely mistaken. Tangerine has been MUCH easier – only reason not to move is TD has an excellent ATM network vs. Scotia.
    YMMV of course but TD’s front line staff both tellers and financial advisors are very under-empowered to fully serve.

  12. Virenero on July 24, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    I opened an account for my 8 year old a couple of years ago. I booked an appointment in person as I was passing by and and spoke with a FA, let them know I wanted to bring in my 8 year old and I wanted him to discuss accounts and investing a $ 1000 mutual fund investment he was going to manage for me. The FA was great, took the time and appreciated the respect he was shown and the questions my son asked….(like I want to make the most money with 0 risk). My son checks his statement every quater to see how the market is doing and he did a presentation on banking and stocks for his grade 5 class.It would have been much easier for me to buy an etf online, however it would not have been the same learning experience. If we treat banking like fast food, we will get the exact same expertise and service and then we will complain. Just an alternative way to look at the same problem, love your blog btw.

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