“No Mr. Client I cannot do that.” It seems that this has been my famous last line over these past couple of weeks because I have had some outrageous requests from clients. There is a fine line between client confidentiality and ethic obligations in banking. There are things that your personal banker is obliged to do for confidentiality and there are things that legally we just can’t do for our clients.
We cannot hide your money from the government or any other authorities. Besides the odds are that if you are in my office with the money, they already know about it. I cannot give you payments or dividends without declaring it to the authorities. It is an automatic report, it is not me personally who calls “Uncle Sam” and tells him about our transactions.
I have a college degree and a business administration diploma… I am not here to find you a new wife or find a suitable husband for your daughter. Yes as a personal banker I do see a lot of people throughout the day and a lot of people in the neighborhood want to know me but I am not a matchmaker I am a personal banker.
I am aware of my personal romantic situation. I know that I am 29 and do not have children and that I am not married. I do not need you to bring it up every single time that we meet. I do not need you to call me on the 1st of each month and ask if I am engaged or pregnant yet. And NO I cannot meet your nephew or grandson because you feel that I am too old to be single. Sorry, it’s just not going to happen.
However, I can keep your condo with your girlfriend a secret from your wife because everything we talk about is confidential. Although I may not agree with your living arrangements it is really none of my business. It does affect your personal financial situation and I can help you plan for it but under no circumstances can I tell you wife…even though she is also my client. A lot of people do not like to have the same investment advisor as their spouse for this particular reason. The fact of the matter is that everything you discuss with your personal banker is confidential.
I can keep playing the game that you are employed as an immigration officer. When I really know that you actually smuggle people into the country and arrange for their accommodations and paperwork for a flat fee of $9,000 cash. Only deposits of any amount over $10,000 must be declared. Therefore, it is not my business what you do with any deposits under $10,000 or where it came from
I will continue to pretend that your “Investment” company is not a loan sharking business. Your “Investment” company is legally registered and incorporated. Your business activities are not my concern as long as you repay your loans and bank fees on time and do not bounce checks.
As your personal banker, my interest in client’s lives and business affairs is restricted to only financial dealings. The red tape and moral issues are between you and someone else.
(Photo by Stephen Cummings)