Jul 19, 2013

A Tale of Two Citibanks

I am starting work in August. Wait, I'm starting work in August?!
That means I can start earning money, buy a car, buy a house, invest in stocks and derivatives, become a millionaire through insider trading, build my black market empire, kill a few villains, and retire gracefully. How exciting!
But, all that starts with a bank account. And one has to choose one's bank carefully. Some nasty local banks like the one our hospital is using now has no branches out of Hualien and is a pain when performing interbank transactions. The other national "commercial" bank charges astronomical rates for trust funds which I had no excess money to buy, and has very steep rates for telegraphic transfers if I were to send money back home to Mum and Dad. So I figure it's time to set up my third account.
After some research I found Citibank Taiwan has the best deals for cross-border transfers and convenient cash withdrawals internationally. I had enjoyed free overseas withdrawals with my Malaysian Citibank account, allowing me to avoid some ancient form of currency called traveler's cheques and my money being sucked up by some dubious bureau de change in the middle of Timbuktu. With my Citibank Debit and ATM, I just present myself to a Citi ATM, enter my PIN, and get local cash with no extra charges. That's what I call a bank who understand my needs *wears sunglasses and drive away in a Porsche*

So after I went back to Taiwan I presented myself to a nearest Citibank in Taipei to open an account. The first bank I went into asked if I have a job.
"That's weird, why does having a job has anything to do with opening a checking account?" I thought. I honestly replied that I am currently unemployed but will start work in August. She said it would be much easier to return in August for the account as local regulations restricts unemployed foreigners from opening an account.
"But I studied and graduated here. I've been in Taiwan for 7 years!" I argued.
"Well, our bank doesn't allow unemployed foreign nationals..." she reiterated.
Thanks to my tough upbringing, I did not give up. Upon exiting the Citi branch, I visited another branch several MRT stops away. This time the officer was even worse.
"Where do you live currently?" She asked, "as local regulations dictates we can't allow non-locals to set up account in locations out of their area of residence, I'm afraid we can't do anything for you."
This excuse is even more bizarre than the unemployment excuse. I didn't feel like putting up a fight because she might call security and throw me out of the building, but I knew they were reluctant to set up an account for me because I am not a Taiwanese national. I am dangerous and could potentially turn into an international money launderer. However, I felt I was being mistreated as I deserve to know the true reason behind all the hazy and inconsistent excuses that they use to reject my application.
So I contacted a senior and friend of mine, Nathan, who happens to be Malaysian and has a Citi account in Taiwan. He was extremely kind to me and pulled his strings to get his banker to open an account for me. Minutes after texting banker Raymond of Citibank Zhongshan branch, he called me to arrange a meeting and asked me politely to bring some documents along.
On the specified time and day, I went to Citibank Zhongshan branch and was greeted by 3 front desk ladies who escorted me into a Citigold cubicle and offered me drinks. The cubicle is equipped with a computer station, desks, stationaries, brochures, recliner, potted plants, and soft music. It actually feels more like a spa waiting room than an office. I cannot imagine the irony behind all this when barely a week ago I was practically asked to leave their branch on the grounds that I am a perilous criminal.
Raymond greeted me very politely and explained that Zhongshan Branch is Citi's second largest branch in Taiwan (the largest being Xinyi), and that only they are authorised to set up accounts for extraordinary people like me. I do feel really special by then as Nancy poured me freshly brewed green tea.
A lot of signatures ensued while Raymond explained how I could buy their trusts and forex products in future when I have "power to invest." Good! I thought. This is a bank who wants me to become a millionaire! I was given my account book, ATM card, and 3 passwords engraved in my brain after an hour and Raymond handing me his name card and made me promise to call him if I need a credit card in future. I think I shall do that as he is very hardworking, proactive, and seems like someone who won't mind me laundering some illicit money.
So now I'm a proud holder of 2 Citi accounts. It's just another couple of months before I start to build my empire. Anyone interested should give me a call at 1-800-LAUNDERING.


Chenyi said...

HAHAHHAHA look at you! ready to rock and roll with your laundering shiznit. all the best :)