Customers need to be vigilant as bankers are turning 'bhayanker', says Ravi Subramanian
Moneylife Digital Team 22 March 2011

The banker and author of three best-selling books says banks and relationship managers often indulge in cross-selling to earn more revenues and, therefore, the customer has to be more careful while dealing with them

"A customer can protect himself from falling into the hands of mercenary bankers by being alert, vigilant and at the same time doing due diligence," said Ravi Subramanian, banker and author, at an interactive session organised by Moneylife Foundation in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Speaking on 'How to see through the hard-sell of banks', Mr Subramanian said, "Bankers become 'bhayankar' when they fail to deliver what they have promised and try to hard-sell products on which they earn more money to the gullible customer."

Mr Subramanian has written three best-selling books, 'If God Was a Banker', 'I Bought the Monk's Ferrari' and 'Devil in Pinstripes', all from an insider's perspective from his nearly two-decades career with foreign banks.

Asking the audience whether they had a clue about the long queues at banks, or why customers calling were made to hold on for a long time, he explained this as a deliberate ploy to cross-sell by bank employees with the result that the end-customer suffers.

Mr Subramanian took up numerous examples of hard-selling by banks, like selling gold. He said it was not wise to buy gold from banks, as not only is gold cheaper (by 4.5%) from a branded jeweller or the neighbourhood goldsmith (14%), but banks do not buy the gold back if ever the customer required the money.

Mr Subramanian is an alumnus of IIM-Bangalore, who has worked with Citibank and Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC).

He also talked about new fund offers (NFOs) that are often pushed by agents as "very good". "Banks and relationship managers often push NFOs, not because the new offer is very good, but because they can earn more money by churning. In any case, banks make more money, sometimes as high as 5% to 6%, from the asset management companies (AMCs)," Mr Subramanian said.

The workshop was well-attended, with several Moneylife Foundation members among the participants. The session turned out to be very interesting with Mr Subramanian addressing questions raised by the audience right through his presentation.

4 years ago
Avinash Murkute
1 decade ago
Absolutely right. Take an example. Kotak Bank says on it website that Interest Certificate shall be provided in 3 working days. Perhaps there days are of 300 hours a days and hence even after 15 days and 4 reminders, they are still in a process of co-ordinating. This is feather in the cap of Mr. Manian of this Bhayankar Bank, kotak bhayankar.
1 decade ago
Mr.Ravi is absolutely right. Banks are the major party responsible for mis-selling of financial products.
sanjay shah
1 decade ago
banks should not b allowed to market financial product and gold, because they are not capable of providing after sales services,. they are targetting HNI OR CUSTOMERS WHO R UNDER OBLIGATION OF BANK BECAUSE OF LOAN / OD / CASH CREDIT ETC. AND DOING BLACK MAILING BUSINESS. POOR CUSTOMER HAS NO CHOICE OF PRODUCT.
Dr S S Sangwan
1 decade ago
Bankers become Bhayanker or traditional Banias who exploit the non vigilant customers. The epectations from banks have increased after the the slogan of Financial inclusion. In most of the banks, the insurance and MF products are also sold by the front line employees who generally befool and even presurise customers. To keep the old basis of trust between banker and customer relation, such products should not be dealt by the employees dealing with banking activities of deposits and loans.

Dr S S Sangwan
1 decade ago
Bankers become Bhayanker or traditional Banias who exploit the non vigilant customers. The epectations from banks have increased after the the slogan of Financiaa inclusion. In most of the banks the insdurance and MF products are also sold by the the front line employees who generally befool and presurise customers. To keep the old relation of trust such products should not be dealt by the employees dealing for banking activities of deposits and loans.
Bhavesh Damania
1 decade ago
Hi Moneylife team,
Can you pl share more details, as shared by Mr.Subramanian, of how "Bhayankar" a Banker can be.. A banker knows all the tricks played by the insiders!!!
1 decade ago
I have number of accounts with private bank/s. Many times in the past RMs have tried (read hard sell) selling me products such as 'Structured Products', plain vanilla, or Nifty linked, etc. etc., ULIPs, other Insurance products (endowment, etc. NOT TERM PLAN), PMSs, MF NFOs (not ongoing scheme), IPO financing and more BUT I have always refused to subscribe (except for PMS where I fell prey) and that is why the RMs DO NOT CONTACT ME AT ALL. When I have problem with the functioning of the a/cs, I contact RM.

As regards Credit Card, I am of the opinion that one should not get lured by free cards from any and every bank. Rather one should opt for the same from your own banker because in case of problem you can approach the RM or higher ups (assuming you have the names, numbers of them in advance). Secondly, the best way to avoid any problem in credit card is to pay on time. When you do not (due to personal reasons or whatever) that is when the differences in charges, etc. erupt. Also, do not use Credit Card for cash withdrawal. For that you must keep Debit Card of the same bank. Also, be aware that if you use your credit card for 2 lacs or more in a year, then you have to furnish the information as AIR in your Annual Income Tax Return. So, better you keep track of your expenses and keep it below 2 lacs (if possible). If you need to spend more, then use multiple credit cards (of family members. Ensure that it is not an add-on card of yours) and for accounting purpose, you can always reimburse.

In today's time one should use the technology to your advantage and do most of the transactions without visiting the bank. Such as, monthly family cash withdrawal from ATMs, investments in IPOs through ASBA, MFs through respective fund house web-site, utility payments through autopay bill facility, online purchases through Netcard (this is great because you save yourself from probable frauds. It is a virtual Credit Card with a specific amount. If you do not use it then it gets credited back into your account). Even requests such as New Cheque book, etc. can be made online. Thus reducing physical involvement.
Suresh Ramasubramanian
Replied to Prakash comment 1 decade ago
this is exactly what I do. Do everything online and the first time the RM contacts you tell him

1. You do your investments yourself
2. You arent in the habit of churning your investments

3. Your entire 1 lakh 80c is already taken up with 70k rupee PPF, some pure term policies, kid's school fees etc. So no you dont want insurance either

4. Your bank loan product doesnt match what SBI offers (no penalty on early closure, no penalty on prepayment)

etc etc. They'll pretty soon, within the first five or six minutes, get the message and go off to chase some other guy who is willing to spend his money on high commission NFOs
Sandeep p
1 decade ago
My friend's dad who is an HNI has the best trick.

every time a banker chases him for money, he nonchalantly ask for straight a minimum of 7% cut, the pesty banker immediately stops chasing him.

Once a banker asked him to invest 5 crores in a PMS fund, he asked for brand new car i10 to be delivered infront of his door for his daughter from a leasing company, the banker chase stopped immediately.

I tried myself when relationship manager tried to buy single premium policy for 1 lac, i asked for 10k in cash, the relationship manager didnt chase me again.

Give them the dose of their own medicine.

Ravi Sharma
Replied to Sandeep p comment 1 decade ago
Hi Sandeep, I completly disagree with what you do and to so called your HNI uncle. This is one mentality that has been perculated in us only because of the bad practises done by LIC agent. Their come no chance of push back, because bankers ( Relationship Manager )dont get commission but we get Salary for which we really work very hard.

Secondly if you or your uncle would have enough knowledge about the market and specific instruments which can give you 100% assurity of not loosing money and give maximum returns you should do it by urself.

I am SORRY but because of some culprit RMs you cant blame the entire RM community (or for matter BAnkers)

Replied to Ravi Sharma comment 1 decade ago

Touch your heart and answer yourself(not here)that RMs do really live up to the term RELATIONSHIP MANAGER ? Even the Bank or Broking firms(management) do not want them to manage/help/assist client, but they simply want RMs to suck client to their advantage, make big money and enjoy.. If you have spent some time in RMs job I am sure you cant deny a bit of this truth!! The mantra is "Kitna revenue kiya". No wonder RMs are the most handsomely paid profile in Financial services sector..
Sandeep P
Replied to Ravi Sharma comment 1 decade ago
Hi Ravi,

Its just a trick to get pesky RM's off the back.

I went to get 6 months bank statement for my Visa application from the bank, the guy saw the balance in my account and called my "relationship manager" , whom i didnt know exist.

I was in a hurry to leave, but the person in the bank wasted 30 mins of my time, and tried to sell me an single premium policy, without me asking for it, thats jen i was pissed and asked for 10 k just to get him off my back and leave. I never went to bank to buy any ULIP. I went to get my statement.

It was just a trick, which leaves bad taste in the mouth, and anyways, it pissed my RM, but i made friends with my wallet by not buying it.

Amalaraj Marian
Replied to Ravi Sharma comment 1 decade ago
Dear Ravi,
Dear Mr Ravi I am not questioning your integrity. But when you see that what is happening on the ground level is more a common phenomena than an exception. Then if Mr Sandeeps uncle has devised a way to put of such unwelcome intruders and if he is successful, i feel you should not have any qulms. Any which ways i am sure sandeep was presenting his side of the prespective.
But what has appeared in the print would fall in place almost 99% of the times. I have a few of my RMs from the products side who have off the record have said that the bank RMs are difficult because they resort to taking cash payouts from the product RMs also what do we have to say now? Salary to hai + incentive bhi hai aur uspe under the table bhi joro se chal raha hai.
Alert Citizen
Replied to Amalaraj Marian comment 1 decade ago
Be careful of private banks, they even debit the dormant / non operative accounts of the depositors, by forging the customers signatures. You have to check your savings account statement carefully and also verify your term deposit on quarterly basis.

Some leading private banks even cancelled the unclaimed PO / DD and invested in Insurance / MF.

Investors should be alert
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