Today’s Straits Times carries an article on Private Banking – “Private banks mull switch to advisory fee” (dated 25 October 2012). It also happened that I met up with my new Relationship Manager of a local bank yesterday and hence the motivation to write this piece.
My wife and I were introduced to a Relationship Manager (RM) in April 2008 who was assigned to us by a local bank. She stayed as our RM for 2 years before she left the bank and a new RM took over our portfolio. Since 2010, we had to meet with 3 new RMs with the latest meeting occurring yesterday.
Within 4 years, we had 4 Relationship Managers. One wonders how much RM knows us well enough to keep a lookout for our interests. Based on our latest introductory meeting yesterday, my reply is: not much.
I recall asking what was the difference between buying unit trusts on our own (e.g. using e-banking and at lower sales charge) and through the Relationship Manager (with higher sales charge, 4.25% then). The RM told us that the bank would keep a look-out on our unit trusts for us and advise us accordingly with future actions. That was why higher sales charge was justifiable. No such advice came through. It was easy for RM to recommend unit trusts to buy but when it came to selling them, it was not forthcoming even when unit trusts were losing value especially during the 2008/09 global financial crisis. We took our own decision to cut losses and liquidated 2 unit trusts at significant losses in 2011.
It was in October 2011 that we decided to spread out investment portfolio between 2 local banks. We got a RM with a second local bank and as it turned out, we were more comfortable with dealing with her.
At the end of the day, a Relationship Manager must be sincere and willing to place client’s interest first among all else. The bank can earn all the fees they want (and we are willing to pay) but bank customer must end up feeling happy with their services and advice. Having self-interest is no go for RM and the customer can see through this quite easily.
Copyright © 2012, limkimtong for Living Investment
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