x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Bank's decision to focus on wealthy comes under attack

HSBC came under fire yesterday from consumers for switching its focus to wealthier clients.

HSBC came under fire yesterday from consumers for switching its focus to wealthier clients. Alison Haywood, 62, a Premier account holder with the global lender, said it did not make sense to impose a minimum Dh20,000 (US$5,444) per month salary requirement for new customers. "You would think the banks would want as much liquidity as possible, that they would be doing their best to attract customers, not turning them away," she said. "It's very strange. I'm sure they must have a reason, but I would like to know why because they're turning away good business."

Ms Haywood, who must have $100,000 in her account to maintain her Premier status, felt any move away from small account holders was likely to backfire. "People might earn a small amount now, but as they progress in their career they will make more money," she said. "HSBC might regret it. I don't think it's appropriate - HSBC praises itself to be the world's local bank; everyone uses it." Jihad Nadir, 15, a student at a local high school in Abu Dhabi, also feels small account holders should not be penalised. "I think it would be unfair to encourage people who aren't earning Dh20,000 to close their accounts," he said.

Olivera Ilic, a hotel project manager in her mid-30s, described the proposal as a "horrible idea", but she would not be surprised if it happened. "It would be awful to do something like that," she said. "It's a horrible idea. Losing the low-earning customers is like cutting down the tree they are sitting on." But Sofyan Awad, 33, a self-employed property broker, disagreed and thought it could improve the personal banking experience at HSBC. "They have taken on more customers than they can handle, and maybe this would demonstrate their ability to provide better service."