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Core banking brought a revolution in the banking industry and brought transactions and related information at the click of a mouse. The drudgery of the banks was brought to near zero in this sector of work and also the customer was fed with the announced promise of banking with a different experience in more complex banking requirements. There was also a hidden but well perceived promise that there would be a free flow of information and the banking will go through a tectonic change and would become responsive. How much of it has changed, all with banking needs different from just regular transactions, anybody battling it out with them will be able to tell.

With ledger (transaction) related work completely taken over by software, most entries happening real time and that too at a totally centralised level, with access and privileges clearly well-defined, there is very little action at the branch level. Given this backdrop, one would expect a quantum change in the quality of service being churned out. With different types of savings and other accounts, you are promised a different type of relationship with the bank. The relationships by way of service support and privileges are clearly defined. These great relationships are maintained by a new breed of bankers called Relationships Managers.

They are supposed to define your banking experience primarily solving all the issues you raise, in a timely and seamless way and keep you informed of the progress. What triggered me to write about the broken banking system in which we can include Branch Managers and IT support as well is a recent instance, when FD on pre-closure was transferred to POA (Power of Attorney) in a different city, instead of a savings account in the same branch. For sure the mistake happened but what is interesting is the relationship manager literally fleeing away from the scene, becoming incommunicado, WhatsApp, calls and even through a commonly known friend. This happens in India’s leading private sector bank.

Few physical visits and a detailed email to another branch in my area where the account has since been transferred met with no reply to date. I have the dubious distinction of interacting with at least a dozen relationship managers of various banks and three or four branch managers in the last 6 months or so. Another public sector bank branch manager has gone missing from any communication mode, after I made some genuine requests with regards to my Savings Flexi Fixed Deposit account, which was initiated by one of his predecessors 15-17 years back, assuring me the moon. With the same bank, my debit card was connected to one account and the app showed the balance of another savings account for that debit card. It took them a month to set it right after endless reminders. If you talk of home loan accounts, its pre-closure or transferring it to another bank, the less said the better. This is with regard to the second biggest private sector bank. Fifteen months and still not sorted out. The support a bank can provide for a corporate account and advisory / guidance it can really deliver, we will leave it for another day.

Sanjay Sahay

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