By Tom Bradley

I guess I’m more optimistic than executives at the major banks. When we lose a client (we’ve been lucky so far, our clients have been very loyal), I fully expect she/he will come back one day when circumstances change. As a result, when a client takes money out, or heaven forbid, redeems their whole account, we do it quickly, pleasantly and as professionally as when they signed up (Note: it’s not really marketing, it’s just our nature).

There is a story by Rob Carrick in the Globe and Mail yesterday about the way mortgage clients are treated when they leave the bank. For someone who has been fortunate enough to not have had a mortgage for a few years, I was blown away by the variety of fees being charged. Rob reviewed the situation of a client who was paying off his TD/Canada Trust mortgage. In addition to the standard mortgage penalty for paying off the mortgage early (three months of interest), the client also had to pay the following fees:

  • Reinvestment fee: $300
  • Discharge fee: $260
  • Transfer fee: $260
  • Government charge for discharge: $71

This was a bit of an eye opener for me and makes me wonder if there’s a marketing opportunity for Steadyhand. I’ve always wanted to trumpet to prospective clients that we’re the easiest firm on the street to leave – i.e. no exit fees or commissions, no three week delays on RRSP transfers, no ‘save the account’ calls from the branch manager and no scowls. But whenever I’ve considered pitching the idea to the team, I’ve shelved it. It just sounds too negative – “Mrs. Luongo, we’re excited that you’re considering Steadyhand for your investments. I want to let you know that when you want to leave us, it will be very easy and won’t cost you anything”.

After Rob’s story, however, I’m wondering if such a campaign would really resonate with people. After all, it’s not just the banks that make you even madder when you leave. The cell phone companies are right up there too.