Customers of commercial banks will no longer have to worry about hidden fees.
That’s because The Barbados Bankers Association (TBBA) has launched a new code of banking practice, which will be implemented by all five commercial banks in operation here.
The Bank of Nova Scotia, RBC Royal Bank, First Citizens, CIBC First Caribbean International Bank (FCIB) and Republic Bank have all signed on to the new code.
During its launch at FCIB’s Warrens headquarters this morning, Corporate Secretary and General Counsel of Republic Bank, Sasha Shillingford explained that banks would have to reveal any potential fees relating to its services or products up front to customers.
“Often times, terms and conditions are one of the top most important things that customers want to know up front. The important thing is that the code outlines the requirements of the bank and sets the standard that we have to disclose any fees and charges which are applicable to a product and service and this has to be done up front before you go into a relationship with the bank…because you don’t want fees and charges to be in a hidden way or not known to you,” Shillingford disclosed.
However, when questioned on whether banks were required to give reasons why fees were introduced or increased, president of TBBA Donna Wellington said it was not always possible.
She said more importantly was for banks to make their customers aware of those planned changes.
“Banks are commercial institutions whose prices vary based on their operating model. It would be left to any commercial bank to basically indicate if they are able, the specifics around why certain movements in prices are increased.
“I would say that across the commercial space in any sector or sphere, that there is not that level of granularity required from most places that offer services, products, fees or anything. So what we are saying is that there will from time to time be reasons or needs for us to raise prices, raise interest rates…so there is a commercial level that we will always have and it stands to reason that as business decisions are made that we will change accordingly.
“The important thing is that we tell you rather than have to explain in a granular way why changes are being made,” Wellington said.
Among some of the topics referenced in the code are operating an account, foreign exchange services, lending and advertising and marketing, protecting customer information and complaint handling procedures.
In her remarks, Wellington said the code was “our voluntary commitment” to customers to adhere to a code of conduct for operating in the market.
She maintained that there was need for commercial banks to be self-regulating.
“Banking is based on the maintenance of the highest level of ethics and operating principles. These must extend beyond the regulation of a Central Bank.
“We must be self-regulating, responsible entities, duty-bound to deliver the fiduciary and financial obligations owed to our customers, to our community and the country as a whole,” she insisted.
Wellington said the code would be reviewed intermittently and if needed it would be updated to reflect current banking practices and customer needs in an ever changing environment.