Sunday, August 02, 2009

Corporate Responsibility

Some call it Corporate Social Responsibility - CSR for short. Corporations see it as good PR to be seen to be generous towards non-profit purposes, for the good of the community, such as acts of donations to charities, organising meaningly charitable events at their expense, and etc.

Great Eastern Life just did that - not in the usual way we associate it with CSR, but it is CSR at its best. Why? Because its payback is not immediate nor guaranteed while it swallows, on behalf of its investors, the losses that have fallen on its GreatLink Choice investment products. My mother made a startling remark about 5 months ago - that bankers have become professional fraudsters. For all her life, she has kept her money faithfully in a bank, not under the bed, nor in the drawer. And she got us all to keep our monies in the bank too, for the interest that it would earn. So can you blame her when she put a substantial amount of that money in what a relationship manager called a high-yield structured investment product? She had wanted to open a fixed deposit account with the cash, actually. After all, she has been trusted banks with her cash for over 40 years. Structured or not, the banks are selling it and they must have evaluated the product's risk. They said it was low-risk high-yield. What's more, they also threw in the principal guaranteed / principal protected words. Little did we know that banks' definition of 'guaranteed' and 'protected' can be so convoluted that it would take a couple of lawyers to untangle it, or make it more confusing, depending on who you spoke to.

So, 'Thank you', Great Eastern Life and OCBC Bank (the parent), for taking what must be a difficult decision to return all the money that people have invested in structured products with you, knowing that their values have plunged 40-80% today. That's good 'ol banking - honouring people's trust and keeping their money safe, like it has always been, until recently.

4 comments :

Zeus said...

Hi!

It was a great move by Great Eastern Life in returning the amount to the investors for the affected investment products.

On the other hand, some insurance agents might find it difficult to cough out the commissions collected for these products.

Most of the relationship managers I have met before are well trained especially in their sales pitch.

After witnessing the downfall of several investment products, the definition of 'guaranteed principal' appears to provide a false sense of security to commoners like me.

Cheers!

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