Bank business practices are coming under scrutiny like never before. Mortgage penalties, collateral mortgages, high interest credit cards and lack of disclosure have become constant issues according to experts that have taken bank business practices to a whole new level; a ‘low’ level that is. A proliferation of articles give example after example of how consumers are being hurt, in most instances resulting from inept and at times ‘complete’ lack of disclosure and understanding of what they are signing at the bank.
The Feds have chosen to ignore, or at best, pay lip service to these issues. In fact, they chose to tighten up mortgage qualification guidelines with abandon and unduly so, to such an extent that most experts agree that the end result was ‘overkill’. The economy, the housing market are now suffering and tens of thousands of ‘housing related’ jobs may be in jeopardy. And the consumer is hurting. Yet the banks continue to amass unprecedented and ever growing profits at our expense. Greed appears to have taken precedence over integrity and ethics, many say. And the area they make the majority of profit is in mortgages. As we write this on the eve of Canada Day weekend, it seems like our once ‘beloved’ banks have gone too far and that they need to be ‘checked’. Will the government do it? Not likely. Can the level of ‘greed’ be stopped? We say yes! Folks we still live in a democracy, and despite the fact that the virtues and ethics we once could count on from our big banks have significantly eroded, we still have the power to make positive change together. Democracy and our system of governing, albeit grossly outdated (since it was created centuries ago) can still work for the benefit of its citizens, simply because ‘together’ we all have the power to change the way things are. Just look around the world today. There is a movement for positive change and the people of many nations are protesting en masse, thanks to the power of the internet. Knowledge is power. Will it take a global revolution to revamp government, making it much more transparent, accountable and less corrupt? Who knows? Hopefully not at the expense of massive bloodshed. Some governments may however, have no choice but to give in without force when the masses do revolt.
Here at home, we believe that free market forces have the potential to cause change for the better. With the help of the internet and the new social media wave, individuals can protest bad policies, practices and make their personal experiences, well, public to become the catalyst for change. Look at the recent RBC offshore PR nightmare. RBC was forced to change its’ outsourcing policy. The same needs to
happen with regard to the new bank ‘collateral’ mortgage product, the unfair lack of disclosure, to unconscionably high credit card interest rates (with prime at all-time lows) and more.
Canadians can fight for change one at a time by ‘going public’ using social media like Facebook etc., about the negative experiences and results they have had with bank mortgages, credit cards, lines of credit etc. New internet sites are appearing that provide new platforms for people to voice their complaints by making them public. Canadians can also avoid bank mortgages altogether by choosing independent mortgage professionals to ensure they are not taken advantage of. Once the banks start losing major share they will have no choice but to reverse bad policies and practices. Thank God we continue to be one of the best countries in the world to live in. Oh Canada!