In today’s marketplace, branding is everything it seems, especially if the public sector can help you to improve your bottom line. Canada’s chartered banks, all of which regularly report profits of at least a billion loonies every three months, have convinced the Superintendent of Financial Institutions in Ottawa that it’s time to do some bullying of credit unions and other non-banks that seem to be growing in popularity across the country.
The federal regulator, responding to persistent lobbying from the Canadian Bankers Association, has now decreed that there will be serious enforcement of the Bank Act which has said very clearly for decades that only the big guys can actually call themselves ‘banks’.
On their website, the Superintendent says they have noticed an increase in the use of the ‘B’ word by those who are not entitled, and they worry that Canadians may not really understand just who it is they’re entrusting with their deposits, and other ‘banking’ business.
I say Humbug and Horsefeathers, and I’m betting that more than 5.6 million Canadians would agree with me. That’s the number of people who belong to credit unions, and most of us are very good at reading all the fine print.
The drive to make a profit from depositors and borrowers is the same regardless of whether you are Scotiabank or the Steinbach Credit Union.
I have no doubt that employees of both places have pushed the envelope at times, trying to ‘upsell’ their customers. But at least the credit unions and other more community-based alternatives have continued to serve small town Canada, where TD, RBC and BMO pulled out a long time ago.
Unless the MP’s and Senators can persuade the folks at the Superintendent’s Office to give their collective heads a shake, this ‘mugging’ will cost the credit unions and their customers millions of dollars.
I’m glad that my Scottish Grandpa, who managed the local banks in Balgonie and McLean a hundred years ago, is not here to see this.
I’m Roger Currie