Wednesday, October 15, 2003

All under one roof

Assessing the new-generation banks' claims to being your one-stop money managers.
Gautam Chikermane
THOSE SEVEN bright red pieces–five triangles, one square and one parallelogram–represent a bank. Invented in China two millenniums ago, the game of Qiqiaoban (seven clever pieces), now popular as Tangram, was designed to tickle the analytical abilities of children. The myriad shapes–of people, objects, letters, numbers, ideas–that these seven modest-looking pieces can morph into boggles the imagination. Quite like the transformation your bank has undergone does.
Hardly a decade ago, that bank, a service-less PSU entity, was only good to park your salary and some fixed deposits; if you were a collateral-backed businessman, you used the bank to borrow money. Your ‘relationship’ with the bank depended on the level of intimacy with the bank manager, your ‘contact’; the perks were mostly quicker service–often, simply service.
Today, the bank has outgrown the confines of a branch building and traditional ‘service’. It is no longer the lowly safe-keeper of your salary. It aggressively pursues you with offers of loans to buy homes, cars, consumer goods. It sells you mutual funds and insurance. If you’re reasonably well-off, it aspires to manage all your investments. It pays your bills. What next? It will probably offer to pick up your children from school.
Opinion in Outlook Money

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