CAVEAT EMPTOR, dear Indians! Be warned in anticipation again hurrying to your bank in the hope that you shall get customized service that is YOUR best interests.

The “Catch-Any-Gullible-Guy” syndrome is way too much at all our private banks in this country! This is especially intense during target laden months (Jan/Feb/March every year!)You wish to save?

”Oh yes they say! We can help you, Sir! Fixed deposits are no good at all .We shall put you on track with a long term premium paying insurance policy that shall make you a millionaire in no time!”

This even if you have crossed 90!

They KNOW they are committing a criminal act thereby by mis-selling to you –an unwary, trusting and unsuspecting customer—a most unsuitable product that would benefit ONLY them and fatten ONLY their wallets a little.

In any other nation they would be seized and arraigned in a court of law but here in India, citizens are already harassed beyond their tolerance threshold and so nothing happens.

(Ever read about the farmers of this country reduced to a cypher by bankers that advanced them a loan with many false promises and then only to push them into a suicidal corner later on for non-repayment? Over 17000 peasants took their own lives in this way in Vidarbha! At this moment over a million TN farmers are in the national capital; protesting against the horrible deception practiced on them by bankers in that State!)

As I have always put it, we Indians are the worst enemies and ill-wishers of our own country and saboteurs of its probable future prospects. Indian banks are not behind or back ward in doing so what with their queerly dressed up “policies”.

To put it simply, EVERY Indian must be extremely cautious when he thinks of making use of any banking service. He may get pickpocketed for sure but through a lot of suasive blah-blah from beer bellied oily-lipped officials solely interested in their own business development strategies!

I was being tricked by a bank—which is privately managed and whose name begins with five English letters in repetition-into buying a life insurance based policy at 72 by a con artist banker or snake oil seller—“an experienced banker” of course- simply because that way he could meet HIS target in business development! He told me the blackest of lies in this connection so as to coax me into the languid waters too but since I had no financial consultant at that time to help me choose the best option, I was cheated.

I visited a bank last year with the intention of joining an SIP (Systematic Investment Plan) in Mutual Funds.

That bank branch didn’t have a suitable investment product for me and they could have told me so too but they didn’t simply because they stood to gain if they tricked me into taking an atrociously unsuitable policy meant for youth aged below 25!!

The following egregious lies were told to me by the crook in this connection:

  • “This Savings Suraksha Scheme is an SIP from 2017.”[It was no SIP at all]
  • “High growth is guaranteed after the first few years” [It grows at a low rate]
  • “My bank has laid down the friendliest conditions too” [Most friendly but ONLY for the bank management, not for the policy buyer! The very opposite is true. If you pay Rs 7 lakhs and then terminate the policy for any reason—illness, handicap or family crisis– you don’t get even a brass farthing back!]
  • “Life insurance is totally free because this is a mutual fund policy on SIP!”[They don’t carte a hoot for your life at all. This policy is ONLY to give you the false feeling that your life is assured and for nothing else!]
  • “We at this bank are most customer friendly and we have picked the right policy for you, Sir” [“Gargantuan lie! What they meant is “You sucker born! We shall bleed you dry!]

It is ONLY at private banks that such cheating really takes place because the employees there have an axe to grind—i.e. a big amount of commission to obtain– in the products they manage to sell to unsuspecting persons. Profit instinct is high at such institutions naturally, so they are programmed to invisibly pick pocket the visitor in some manner.

Be assured that many Indian banks have two distinct wings—life insurance wing and growth fund wing. THIS is a secret that all banks keep close to their chests without ever hinting about it to the potential customer or investor!

The former offers policies that are not attractive except if at all to young persons, who don’t care if their lives remain assured or not. The latter pay you handsomely if you invest money in them regularly.

Growth funds—the latter– are in perennial demand by all kinds of investors and so these payment plans sell off like hot cross buns! However, insurance policies endure a low sales volume primarily because all Indians know fully well that their individual lives are far from secure in any convincing manner!

Naturally all kinds of tricks are played by the former to sell their ware. I also fell a victim for this reason.

Old Fagin School for Burglary training? Certainly, it is in mindset but far more harmful to the lay public than that old crook’s place, especially in Modern India vying with a vengeance to go totally cashless!

Whisper that you have a few millions to invest and you get surrounded by many smiling faces in a jiffy, who swear they are there precisely and especially coached by the management ONLY to give you sterling service in any way!

You also stand the risk of being led ‘gently by the hand’ by someone in dapper dress into a private room or cubicle to be told in detail , given lessons , offered a hot cup of tea or coffee, given handshakes in callous repetition by all kinds of utter strangers appearing suddenly with smiles all over but actually  “operating” in tacit collusion with the main salesman, brainwashed into thinking that YOU are the hero of their stories, and that it’s YOUR wellbeing alone that they are so passionate about in selling a policy for regular savings!

If you mention your personal suspicions about a policy that you had bought at his advice earlier and that didn’t perform as you had expected, the manager assures you that it had happened because the Indian stock markets had plummeted for mysterious reasons during that year!

”Indian stock market is so unreliable, Sir!” he tells you with a rueful smile of sorts! And he adds,” You ought to have done fund switching to get better returns! I don’t recall your having visited us in that connection! We would have helped you find a way out to sunny pastures! This time that aspect has been beautifully taken care of at our end, Sir!”

The manager himself shall tell you that the policy they have picked for you has been carefully cherry picked and that its high returns would beat inflation totally! (A LIE of course!)

Of course its baloney and bunkum nonsense but then you may not be at first aware of these persons’ real intentions to hoodwink you unless you get a second reference from someone that has been schooled in banking and its intricacies!

If your account is at a public sector bank, you as a person don’t matter much to them—their approach would be totally dispassionate and impersonal)  but then they don’t tell you lies since they don’t get any incentive by doing so. An NRI-returned millionaire by any chance, eh? A potential investor in some long term fund? No matter!

To the bank manager at such a bank(Remember the oily-faced Mayor of Hamelin town in Brunswick in Browning’s poem “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”?)  your token number is what really matter more than your intentions or your air of prosperity!

I have just escaped from this infernal scenario suffering a minor loss too!

My point in this blog is simply to warn you against accosting any-ANY- banking institution if at all you can afford to do so. Once bitten twice shy as they say.

That is, UNLESS you are or have been a banker yourself!

What happened to me may happen to you unless you bear in mind all the time you spend in any bank premises!

The employees there shall resort to the vilest of tricks to gain their private or office ends; they don’t mind hoodwinking you with false projections about the amount you may get after so many years of slogging and saving.

They shall, while regaling you with the sweetest and most saccharine blah-blah, try to dump on you policies that hate growth and take your whole time to double.

I have much more to tell you in this regard but let me content myself by telling you that the monthly amount I used to invest in that stupid policy has been invested in a couple of high growth funds today!

The Indian banking market place is having cut throat dog eat dog competition for survival and for meeting RBI and BASEL norms all the time.

This converts the typical banker- man or woman- into something of a crook—a gargoyle—in the course of his or her routine service-cum-business. Branch managers are also, if at all they wish to survive in that bank’s service, constrained to practice unforgivable bastardry upon the customers or policy holders.

The potential customer on the other hand may be a lay person not exposed to the intricacies of banking and investment.

All that he has to depend on at his end is, like in my case, a strong desire to save and invest regularly. He is exploited by the bank staff into choosing the most unsuitable policy scheme as a result of their own greed to get more commission. These unearned fleshpots get relished by bankers at the expense of the public!

Business development strategies don’t always sync with customer expectations, needs and priorities. Only the bank can know this and so they meet their private goals by foisting the wrong policies upon all lay persons that approach them with the honest intention of saving something for a rainy day in the distant future!

Beware of such trickery that all our bankers in India—cousins to our cunning politicians as they happen to be! — practice all through the year!


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