Thursday 26 January 2012

Survey reveals expat banking fears


The Expat Banking Poll was sponsored by Lloyds TSB International and conducted by expat website Just Landed. Expats in Spain were found to have the most problems with banking abroad. Almost two-thirds of those polled – 64 per cent – said that they do not trust local banks at all. Some of the most common problems cited by those who distrust banks abroad include unfair charges, trouble with the language barrier and money that was deducted from their account without any explanation. Briton Graham Hunt, who runs a Spanish property website and has written some hard-hitting blogs on banking in Spain, said: "Two years ago, there was a lot more trust in Spanish banks. "But the past couple of years have seen new charges for cards, account maintenance, transfer fees... this put people into the red in unused accounts, and they were then given an additional overdrawn charge. As a result, trust disappeared." Spain is happiest expat destination 19 Jan 2012 He also claims bank charges have increased "dramatically" recently and that lack of clear communication is the major problem for expats not speaking Spanish, and banks not employing people with language skills. "However my experience is that if you have a good relationship with the bank manager then any charges on the account can usually be got back," Mr Hunt said. "You just threaten to take your business elsewhere." Ali Meehan, who runs the Costa Women community network, said however there were many reasons expats wanted to use Spanish banking services. ""Many expats bank with Spanish financial institutions because they have mortgage products or loans locally," she said. "Some banks also offer special deals if you have your UK pension paid direct to Spain." More than 11,800 expats in total were surveyed for the Lloyds TSB International report. More than half of those, 59 per cent, said that they do trust their banks abroad, while only 22 per cent of respondents said they did not trust their banks "at all". In the United Arab Emirates, 74 per cent polled said they completely trust local banks; in Kuwait, this number is even higher, at 83 per cent. In Europe, German banks receive a similar score, with 68 per cent of expats polled completely trusting their services. UK banks – though facing many problems – are completely trusted by 52 per cent of respondents. And despite uncertainties over the British pound, 36 per cent of expatriates surveyed claim they would invest in sterling over any other currency. "While the poll demonstrated a lot of positivity, there are also some issues to be addressed," said Daniel Tschentscher, managing partner at Just Landed. "In the current climate, one would expect the level of trust to be lower, but that really doesn't seem to be the case at all."