Banks – love ‘em or hate ‘em – we are going to lose HSBC Chandler’s Ford Branch. Closure is scheduled for 13th November 2015.
Armed robbery: 13th September 2007
A gang of six robbers tried to intercept the G4S cash transit van as it pulled up to make a delivery to HSBC. One robber aimed a pistol at the head of one of the couriers and was promptly shot dead by armed police who lay in wait.
This particular gang had pulled off about 20 armed robberies around the country and the police had information that Chandler’s Ford was the next target. They did not have enough evidence to arrest the gang before the robbery but knew that they had to be prepared with firearms.
A second robber picked up the pistol dropped by the first and he, too, was shot dead. After that the others gave up. Eventually the survivors were sentenced to several years each in jail.
For a day or two, Chandler’s Ford was the centre of media attention.
Then it happened again.
There was another robbery on the 24th of November 2011. A robber managed to make off with a cash box. It is not known how much money was stolen but nobody was hurt. What made that branch so attractive to robbers?
Bank robbery has become less effective in recent years. About a third of attempts are unsuccessful and the robbers are caught in 20% of the others. The average haul is £30,000, useful, but hardly a fortune.
I like the story of bank robber, Willie Sutton, who was asked why he robbed banks. “Because that’s where the money is.” He replied. He also said that you cannot rob a bank with charm and personality.
HSBC Chandler’s Ford branch: “We are closing”
HSBC Bank in Chandler’s Ford: We are closing: “From 3.30pm 13 November 2015 this branch will close and all business will move to Leigh Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire SO50 9YW.”
The closure is part of a trend with bank branches and may have been triggered by the need to consider a new lease on the property.
Now the same bank is the centre of local attention as it is to close in November. Banks are closing many of their branches as more and more banking is done on the internet and by computer. Who will suffer? Not the bank or they would not close. Local businesses will find it awkward. They need a bank to deposit their cheques and money. Most of a trader’s income is probably from debit and credit cards which circumvent the bank but there are still cheques and cash.
To pay in money you must travel to the next nearest branch. I understand that there are paying in facilities at some post offices but it takes longer to credit the money to your account. I am told that there is a system of paying in by taking pictures of your cheque by mobile phone. Does this work. I wonder?
To obtain money we now use ATMs or cash back from supermarkets. ATMs have always worked well for me, even abroad. I dream of the day when I might find one that dispenses 10 times what you ask for but no luck so far.
Changes in banking
When I first had money, a university grant, I took it to my father’s bank which was The Midland as HSBC was called then. I was invited to have coffee with the manager who explained what services he could offer and what he would expect from me. I felt part of a useful institution and stayed with that bank for 40 years.
Later I had a saving account with Halifax when it was a mutual building society. The Halifax, like many other building societies eventually demutualised and we were assured that it would make no difference to the service. In the following months I noticed small difference to many things, all to the bank’s benefit and none to me. Savers’ interest rates were cut, borrowers’ interest rates went up, the old staff were replaced by a few school leavers who did not know me by name, nor did they care.
My wife used to be invited to have a review by ‘her’ financial adviser. He wasn’t her adviser, he was the bank’s. He wanted her to have a credit card and a personal loan and to be beholden to the bank by debt. Many of our young people have been pressured into debt by the easy availability of credit cards and loans and most have bitterly regretted it.
How about a branch representing several banks? It could host drop-off facilities, ATMs, advisors, take payments for utilities etc. Place it where there is car parking for who wants to carry heavy bags of money for long distances. Supermarkets might be a good place, or shopping malls.
Promise of financial success
Just one hour after the pass list in medicine had been posted on the University notice board I found that I was suddenly of interest to banks, insurance companies, hire purchase shops, car showrooms, holiday companies and the like. We ex-students had invitations to parties organised by life insurance people with free drinks and nibbles with attractive sales women. There were offers of loans. All this from people who, in previous weeks, showed us the door if we requested any financial help. Did these people realise how poor we were and would continue to be for several years? My take home pay was £26 per month (1962) for working 72 hour weeks.
We all make poor financial decisions from time to time, bankers included. Why did the banks collapse? Because bankers were stupid and greedy. You do not need a degree in economics to recognise human failings. Some have been deliberately deceitful and others short sighted to the point of blindness. Computers do not have these failings so let us recognise what they do well.
Good financial decisions are possible. Mine was a fixed interest mortgage on the house. When mortgage rates soared up to 15% I was still on 6.5%.
Use banks like you would a shop. Decide what services you want and see whether the bank will provide them and at what cost. Listen to what they can offer, it might suit you but do not forget that they exist to make a profit from their customers – or do they call us clients? Stay in control of your own finances, do not let them do it for you.
Once I commiserated with the manager of a bank near the University. It must be difficult, I said, just having student accounts with no real money. Yes, students could be a problem but he had many local business accounts because there was ample parking nearby.
How does money work?
I do not understand how money works. How is it that, in one week, shares can increase in value by 10%, every £ can be worth more on the foreign exchange and the value of gold can go up 10% as can the cost of oil. The next week it can all go back down again. Why?
They say money represents not worth but confidence. That may be why politicians can have so much effect. Think of all those countries governed by dictatorships where the dictators are kleptomaniacs. Anyone, including the dictators themselves, will want to convert their money into a London property where it will be safe.
If you make some spare money, how will you use it? George Best, the successful footballer once said. “They tell me I squandered a lot on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just wasted.”
In days gone by a rich man might donate a lot to the church. Now they seem to donate to politics in the hope of reaching the House of Lords. Americans have a fine tradition of philanthropic giving which is encouraged by various government laws.
What would you do if you had a spare £100 million?
Update on HSBC in Chandler’s Ford: 18th November 2015:
The HSBC Bank Chandler’s Ford branch at the Central Precinct has now closed.
The ATM machine has also been removed.
HSBC put a note on its door:
“Sorry we have closed. This former branch of HSBC has permanently closed for business.”