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Out and About

HSBC’s Festive Premier Day

Open Days are something usually associated with schools and colleges, not with banks. After all, banks are hallowed institutions full of learned scribes who look down on any mortal entering their sanctimonious chambers. Such a Dickensian view of a bank does not of course have anything to do with today’s Moscow, which enjoys relatively modern banking. However HSBC is a bank that sometimes is perceived to be exclusive and it was to dispel this particular myth that the bank organised its “Premier Day”.

Premier Day”. Existing account holders were invited to their local branch with their colleagues, friends and relatives. Champagne and soft drinks flowed freely and there was something of a festive occasion. Branch managers mixed with clients and staff and held discussions and conversations about the bank’s services, this came as a bit of a shock to some as the branch manager in many banks here is still somebody who stamps documents and is the person you are confronted with only when a experiencing a “financial downturn”.

The bank was keen to explain the global nature of its premier account service, and all the advantages that being part of a global bank hold for individual and corporate account holders. The fact that the bank has dedicated British, American, German, French and Turkish ex-pats ready to explain these services and introduce local providers of education, housing, and medical care is something that people may not know. The ability to open up accounts easily in other countries as and when needed is something that perhaps only travelling ex-pats need, and not all ex-pats travel. However the fact that the bank can arrange mortgages for ex-pats, has a zero-charge debit card system and can be genuinely useful in mailing international bank transfers which are free when made between HSBC accounts in different countries is something else that not all people who came to Premier Day knew. But HSBC doesn’t pretend to do everything. It doesn’t for example, organise car loans. The bank’s premier account demands a fairly high initial deposit, and UK citizens may not relate to the fact that an HSBC bank account has an entry barrier.

“At the same time HSBC in Russia offers a variety of services tailored to the needs of both expat and Russian population”, explained Svetlana Mishustina the bank’s deputy head of retail banking business. “Apart from HSBC Premier we also offer HSBC Plus, a service based on the high-quality service offered via branches as well as via our call centre and internet services. With a low entry barrier one receives a full range of domestic services, international transfer capabilities, and also free cash withdrawal at no charge in any HSBC and non-HSBC ATM in Russia and abroad.”

Premier Day was apparently a success. The bank signed up 300 new clients on October 21st, 15% of them ex-pats. Svetlana recounted what happened in one of the Moscow HSBC branches: “ We had a really fantastic case at White Square branch—some expats (who were not HSBC clients) were passing by and were attracted by the balloons, the window decorations, the sight of the improvised bar stand with drinks and canape snacks inside the branch, and the red carpet in the street in front of the entrance. They stood there hesitant whether they could get in, then one of our branch members welcomed them in. They got inside, learned about HSBC and retail propositions and opened accounts. Moreover, they happened to work in the same business centre complex where the branch is located. Later in the evening they came again bringing along their co-workers.”

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