Last week I went to one of my favorite local coffee shops, Si Espresso Bar on Broadview at Danforth. My friend and owner Egidio (“Edge” for short) served me up one of his authentic Italian espresso shots to kick start my day as the warm morning sun shone through the large front windows and the sounds of the Danforth coming to life on a hot August morning drifted through the door.
As I was chatting with Edge about futbol and the after math of the World Cup, two suits walked in from the local bank branch one of which was the mortgage/investment/insurance/retirement/analyst specialist. Jack of many trades. The conversation naturally evolved into a chat about rates and business.
As we continued I realized that subtly he was selling me on switching banks. I began to acutely pay attention to what this gentleman was saying and offering.
The gist of his spiel was “switch to our bank and I’ll offer you a credit card with a $20,000 limit and x thousand travel reward miles and zero interest for the first 6 months.” For an instant his banter was appealing. Then, I snapped out of it and realized what he was actually offering. An opportunity and the temptation to put myself $20,000 in debt and enslave myself to the bank. Thanks but no thanks.
After politely declining his offer I went back to my office thinking of the irony. Canadians love and trust their banks, and in all fairness they have served our country well as we keep on getting reminded in the media when comparing Canada to our neighbours down south. However, on a personal finance level your banker isn’t there to help you attain financial freedom. That would be bad for bank business. They are there always dangling that carrot of more credit for a society that is addicted to credit as shown by our national saving rate.
I meet borrowers everyday who are over their heads with consumer debt. Take this as a caveat the next time your banker leans in a little closer and wants to make you a special offer.