The HSBC is a local bank for local people – as long as you’re rich enough.
There is obviously so much more to the story of why HSBC has decided that workers at its branch in Canford Cliffs, Dorset, should only be exposed to the wealthiest of customers.
But whatever the detail of the decision, the fact is HSBC has created a headline writers’ dream. More worryingly for the bank itself, the official statement justifying the decision simply makes matters worse.
The long and short off it is that HSBC, in its wisdom, has decreed that only customers with £50,000 or more in savings, a hefty mortgage or a salary of at least £75,000 should be allowed to talk to staff at this branch. Everyone else has to make do with the cash withdrawal and automated paying-in machines.
This particular branch serves the Sandbanks areas of Poole, amongst others, where some seriously wealthy people reside. Of course, not everyone living near “Millionaire’s Row” boasts seven-figure assets and yet HSBC has attempted to gloss over this significant fact.
The bank’s official statement makes a bad story worse.
“We are trying to treat everyone fairly – not everybody in the world is equal,” it proclaims. “Some people have higher incomes and need greater services through the bank.
“These customers demand a better service.”
This might help to explain why I struggled to explain my decision to switch from HSBC for ethical reasons to a bank employee a few years ago. After five minutes I gave up, much to the consternation of the HSBC employee who could not complete her questionnaire – my suggestion that she looked up the word “ethical” in a dictionary as a useful starting point did not help matters.
The word “ethical” is apparently one that HSBC is still struggling to come to terms with, despite what their expensive advertising campaign might claim.