A fair warming – it’s going to be a rant!
Have you ever tried to open a current bank account? Or a savings account? Or, gods forbid, get a credit card?
I just went through the hoops of trying to open a joint bank account with my partner. Three banks later, and after almost equal parts bewilderment and amusement at the ‘absolutely essential’ set of documents confirming our identities, it seems we finally succeeded. But the time wasted and nerves shredded are just ours to calculate into the cost of living…
I’m computer literate, I read a bit of financial news/advice, I had bank accounts in three different counties, including a couple of current ones. I really did not expect it to be such a struggle.
Apparently money laundering requirements are that you need to provide your ID and a proof of your address to do anything official these days. But if you thought that those requirements seem quite simple and straightforward, you’ve never been more wrong before.
An ID, in a country that does not have a mandatory ID system, could be problematic, right? What if you don’t drive so you don’t have a driving license and never been abroad before, so you don’t have a passport? Never mind, I belong to neither category so I thought it should be simple enough. Unfortunately, some banks require a certified copy of your ID, and it can’t be certified by anyone, even your GP is not enough (although who has a GP who actually knows you these days, if you don’t have small kids?)- for some of them it has to be a solicitor, lawyer or a barrister. I personally don’t know any, and the idea of going to an office and paying for someone to put a stamp and sign a bit of paper just to open a bank account, does not appeal at all.
The address bit is even more entertaining. For the document to be accepted it has to be a bank account statement or a current bill (TV, phone – but landline only, utilities etc). Considering that most young people do everything electronically, I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen a paper statement or a bill. All of that is sorted online these days. Even if you request a statement of account it’s going to be a while before it arrives, right? By the way, here lies another interesting part – all new customer bank accounts applications expire after a while. “The while” differs between banks and they don’t always tell you immediately how long their while is. (It really should be stated in very big letters BEFORE you start going through the application – if you don’t have the documents we’ll ask from you, wait till you get one cause you’ll have only X days to get it to us).
I have to say I was most entertained by the list provided by First Direct: if you don’t have a current bank statement or bill you can still open a bank account with them (after certifying the copy of your ID with a solicitor) if you have a statement of benefits received, HMRC coding notice etc, or (!) a permission to carry firearms. It’s significantly more difficult for a fully employed, self sufficient pacifist…. That tells something, doesn’t it?
I think I’ll leave the joys of credit cards for another time. Now I need a chamomile tea or something..