London Diaries My Financial adventures

It’s been years since I’ve opened a bank account, so I must admit I wasn’t prepared for the English banking system. In fact it brought back memories of Stephen Leacock’s experience.

In order to open a bank account here in London, you need a piece of ID with your address and your passport. Easy enough. I had my electric bill and my British passport so I thought this was going to be an easy process. When I turned up at the bank, everything seemed to be in order, except it was Friday. Friday after 3 there weren’t 2 managers to sign off on the account. Unfortunately Saturday was the same – only one manager on duty. I should have taken that as a clue that perhaps things weren’t going to be smooth. The manager and I agreed I would come back on Monday at 10 am sharp to complete the process.

Monday comes and I’m eager to get the process started. There were indeed two managers on duty so no challenge there. However, when the manager who saw me on Friday took a closer look, he began to mumble about how this wouldn’t do. Like most people in the world, I have a couple of names – three in fact besides my surname. All my names are on the passport since that’s the way my birth certificate reads – a definite plus in obtaining a passport. However, the first name on the electric bill wasn’t the same as the first name on the passport. “This will never do,” the manager said. “Head office will never approve this” – I must admit I did have a little laugh given that some banks here have been accused of laundering money for big drug dealers, but that of course is another matter.

So out into the cold wet street I trudge looking for a friendly bank to give them my business. I went to one bank. The greeter at the door said it would take 5 days to get an appointment. I went to another bank. This greeter was very hesitant. “oh you may have to wait for hours” were her comforting words. I did actually manage to open an account finally, but it taught me valuable lessons – patience and a sense of humour will help me while I adjust to being here.

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