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Clampdown on misleading bank ads, sales pitch

|By K Raveendran| Bank customers often find themselves being led up the garden path by the sweet talk of sales agents and rosy promises held out by advertisements when they change their bank. The new choice invariably turns out to be worse than the one that had been given the ditch.

There is consolation on the way for such disconcerted customers. The UAE Banks Federation, the collective body of the country’s 50 banks, has decided to clamp down on unethical advertising and misleading claims by aggressive sales agents. The task has been entrusted to a specially-created committee. The committee will also support customer education initiatives and formulate a set of advertising guidelines.

The committee is part of a new independent monitoring agency that the Federation has proposed to establish. There will be four other specialist committees, dealing with audit, operations and payments, IT, and fraud.

A recent meeting of the CEO’s Advisory Council, headed by AbdulAziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of UAE Banks Federation, reviewed the initiatives. The committee will also support customer education initiatives and formulate a set of advertising guidelines.

Also on the agenda for the meeting was the establishment proposed by the UAE Central Bank of a Higher Shari’ah Authority, to complement and oversee the work of Shari’a Boards of individual Islamic banks operating in the country. Representatives of the Federation’s Islamic banking committee are working closely with the Central Bank on guidelines for the establishment of the new body that will help to ensure consistency amongst all UAE Islamic banks in their development of new structures and products.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair impressed upon the member banks about the need to behave in a transparent and honest way in their marketing communications. This is in line with federation’s diligence and continuous efforts to ensure best practice in banks’ dealings with their customers.

The UAE Banks Federation has of late assumed the role of a self regulator of the banking sector, focusing on developing and representing the interests of the member banks and defending their rights. The federation plays a major role in raising public awareness around the beneficial role and distinctive financial, economic and social contribution of the banks.