My sister and I were discussing (we’re in between fights) some of the recent embarrassing trends that seem to be plaguing Nigerian banks these days. As employees of a couple of these here institutions, we really can’t help but notice, be appalled and thus, wary that our own companies will also fall to the bait.
I mean, my hat off to the whole CBN policy and the re-capitalization crap, but while the possibility that the average person doesn’t have to fear his deposits won’t suddenly disappear with the failure of his bank is higher, I think there’s a certain lack of integrity in these banks’ methods.
Competition is good. It encourages all kinds of positive growth. I mean, in the past year alone, many, if not all the banks are now issuing credit cards, have tons of ATMs, and online banking, which for people like me that are too lazy too be in a banking hall but have too much online time on their hands, is a blessing.
But then there are the other methods they are using to get more deposits. The foolish ways they are choosing to COPY every other thing every other bank does, no matter how STUPID it is.
Peeve #1 – Singing in Adverts: All I can honestly say is, WTF? Songs??? I honestly can’t put on my finger on which bank started it, but easily the most irritating is probably Skye Banks jingle. The almost cruel re-working of what used to be a manageable (if not one of their best) Lighthouse Family song annoyed me every time I heard it for about 6 months. Then a few banks went down the African-ish jingle road. The most recent of that is FCMB (yes, I’m calling names). They managed to mix what at first sounded like an African remix of JT Money’s ‘Who Dat’ twanged with that children’s Sunday School song, ‘The More we are together’. I couldn’t help rolling my eyes at that one. Luckily, I think my bank knows better. It’s cheesy and silly. This isn’t friggin Idols.
Peeve #2 – The Oddly Intricate Buildings: This is not so much a grab at potential clients than a somewhat need to look cool to the passer-by, I think. Everyone knows GTB. Everyone loves GTB’s buildings, which for lack of better words, are SEXY. Architectural works of art that are rare in Nigeria yet practical. They manage to look professional and cool. However, it seemed a few others wanted to make their own trademarked buildings. Sigh. Fair enough. But have you seen some of the new Bank PHB branches? What’s that big yellow thing for??? Why make a ridiculously fancy front wall, so that the other 3 walls will look miserable behind it? Skye, I’m looking at you! If you’re going to put shiny glass orb things on the front wall, then dammit, put it on the other three. Cos unless, your bank is at the very end of a closed street, people will STILL see the other walls!
Peeve #3 – The Hot Chicks Marketers: Ok, I feel a little bemused that I have become a statistic :). It seems to be a crime of mostly new-generation banks which understand the line ‘Sex Sells’. Quite literally. Gorgeous, well dressed, young women, and men now I think of it, sent out in fabulous company cars to go and appeal to big company execs to invest. I used to think people were exaggerating, but certain events in the past year or so, have led me to believe otherwise. The more money you bring in, the higher you get, faster. It’s embarrassing, really, and that’s one of the biggest signs that an industry has lost its integrity. It doesn’t matter what you studied, Accounting, Chemistry, Bio-Mechanical Physics. You’re eligible. That’s honestly why I left my other bank after 6 hours. About 40 corpers, and everyone of us was dumped in Marketing. I’m not that desperate for a job. I’ve got skills that are higher and deeper than parading the streets of Lagos looking for cash. No offence to dignified marketers out there. You’re job is hard enough, but it’s not for everybody, thus my irritation with banks. Not everyone can go and do it, but such is their desperation for money that they don’t care. They don’t care how you do it, just DO it. Instead of selling hot employees, sell great plans.
Peeve #4 – Those PROMOS: This is just the height right here. The first bank to do this was UBA I think. Ok, not a bad idea. Leave some amount of cash in your account, win something nice. Then another bank did it. Then another bank did it. Then even more. And I hid my head in SHAME. It suddenly became an issue of, JUST OPEN AN ACCOUNT, with as little as 10,000 and in some months, you qualify for the draw where you could probably win … a car. And that ladies and gentlemen, is the Act of Desperation. Bribing people to open accounts? Why?
Why can’t they do what other banks elsewhere do? I had reason to research some American, British and I think, South African banks recently, and the first thing that hit me on their websites was the way they tried to lure you with better interest rates, easier loans, greater credit packages, and the likes. Not, say, a brand new car for a minimal deposit. Or a house, if you saved 100,000 for a year.
The way we go about it here, the average person won’t really know or think that you should earn good interest rates on savings, be able to take loans (which is still a pipe-dream in Nigeria) that won’t leave you broke and miserable, get financial advice…
I think Charles Soludo should start taking a look at the ethics of the Banks. People aren’t gaining anything, yet they’re all busy declaring billion Naira profits and feeling sexy.