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Friday, January 14, 2005

HSBC Stockbroking and Online Saver

Recently, I've made the decision to switch my banking across to HSBC. HSBC has a number of branches in Australia, a few of which are in Melbourne. Now from the brouchures and fliers they've got on their website, the HSBC Stockbroking/Online Saver combo seems just the thing I'm looking for. A good rate of interest on balances of over $2000 on the online saver bank account, and fairly competitive brokerage rates for their stockbroking services ($25 per trade under $10000). As a combo, they're hard to beat.

However, my being in Darwin over the summer does present some problems. One of the major ones is the requirement by HSBC to verify my identity. This requirement is generally fulfilled by a 100 point identification check at a HSBC Branch. There are no HSBC Branches in Darwin, meaning that HSBC requires me to fill in and send what they term a S21 form. I suppose, since all the forms were sent to me from their offices in Sydney after a web enquiry (essentially meaning that I could apply from anywhere in Australia) that this refers to S21 of a Federal act. I wouldn't mind knowing which one.

One of the more painful aspects of having to fill in the S21 form is to have a valid referee. Now referees come in a number of types, including bank employees having the power to open accounts, judges, ministers - basically no-one that I knew. I was saved by Justices of Peace being on the list. After a great deal of fiddling around, I contacted one of my Dad's friends who happens to be a JP and he help me fill in the required paperwork. I send it off, expecting no real problems, and eventually I get a phone call a few days after by a fellow at HSBC asking me to confirm my work number. Great suprise to me, since I didn't give them my work number - one of the consequences of being on vacation employment is that you don't have a work number long enough to remember it. I raised my eyebrows at him and grimaced a little, but I guess that doesn't come across during a phone call. He confirmed the rest of my details however, and hung up. He called minutes later explaining that in fact it was my referee's work number and home address that were to be confirmed - like I knew what those were.

It's been a bit of a PITA. This morning I sent off the work number and availibility details of my referee to HSBC via email. I purposely ommitted my referee's residential address, since he provided his PO Box details to HSBC with the obvious intention of allowing his residential address to be kept out of the affair. I gave HSBC assurances that the PO Box address was fine. I got an email back later this afternoon telling me that the address was required in order to confirm his status as my referee. This seems strange to me. Shouldn't the PO Box address be enough? I'd have thought that my referee was entitled to his privacy.

I'll talk to my referee about it on Sunday and see what he says.


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