After 35 years of stockbroking for some of the biggest houses and investors in Australia and the UK, the Secret Broker is regaling Stockhead readers with his colourful war stories — from the trading floor to the dealer’s desk.

There is a great classic bit of British comedy, where Mel Smith goes into a JB HiFi type shop to buy a record player and he is ridiculed by the shop assistants (Rowan Atkinson and Griff Rhys Jones) for not knowing the right technical terms.

Well, I went into the bank the other day and I got ridiculed by the bank teller for knowing all of the latest technical terms in retail banking. She was an older lady and as my bank is a conversion of a 100-year-old building society, I presume she had been there for all of her working life.

If you watch this video and think of me telling the lady what the future of retail banking will look like, then you will get my meaning.

You see, me and Mrs Broker had set up a company and wanted to then open up a bank account for it, so that we could start to use it for a little side hustle venture that we had started.

So, the first time I toodled in to see them about it, they said we need to fill in a physical form, which when done, they would forward to head office for approval. This meant I had to take it home and get both of us to fill it in and sign it and take it back.

When I took it back, she told me not everything matched up and she got the Tipp-Ex out and started to white out certain bits. Now, I haven’t seen a Tipp-Ex bottle in action for over 20 years and when I told her that the form should be online, well, everything started to go downhill. Snide remarks were heard from her side of the counter.

Even though we were existing customers (trying to support local), she insisted that we produce 100-point ID references. This led me to explain to her that the new ‘Open Banking’ regulations coming in would allow me to switch banks, without needing to go through the 100-point check.

“Basically”, I told her, “if you already have a bank account, you must have already gone through the ID checks and should not have to do it again.”

I couldn’t help myself. “Simples,” I added for emphasis, because two can play at the being a smartarse game.

She shouted at me. “That would be open to fraud” and “would never happen on my watch”, and gave me back the forms to take home. This time I was directed to “fill in the right information” where she had painted on the Tipp-Ex.

All I can say now is that Mrs Broker now goes in with the paperwork, whilst I fume in the car. She diplomatically navigates the Old Lady System and bingo, within a week, we have a new bank account.

All up though, this took us three weeks and four trips to the branch, all whilst I’m trying to support local business and employment.

Deep breath.

Serenity. Now.

As a rule, I never go through self-service checkouts, as I want to be served by someone who hopefully remains employed because of my stand (are you hearing me, *name redacted to protect oh what the hell Banducci?)

Anyway, the next letter I get in the post from them tells me that they will be closing my local branch on 7th April 2021. I think, no wonder.

Their model is broken because their offerings are behind the times. Their branch would make an ideal coffee shop. They could let you wait to do your banking in a nice comfy armchair whilst sipping on a cappuccino.

All the other coffee shops in town make money, so why couldn’t they?

But no. So they join the ranks of the other three local branches that have closed down in my ‘retiree’ seaside town, leaving another four vanilla offering bank branches to go.
 

Which bank? A modern one

My Revolut app allows me to instantly buy (via my thumb) crypto, precious metals, and currency switches, all with a tap-to-pay smartphone facility, built in. Setting it up was easy, all done online and without the need to physically walk into a branch.

All my local branch could offer were term deposits and mortgages, and they still advertise their child-friendly savings account on TV, which no one cares about.

So yes, the branch closes after 37 years and apps like Revolut continue to grow, with 12 million customers in 35 different countries. They don’t pay any interest on your money – who does? – but they do let you make it work harder for you in a fun and exciting way.

And not one bottle of Tipp-Ex in sight, Grandad!

PS. An interesting bit of knowledge that you may not know, is that Mike Nesmith from The Monkees’ mother Bette, invented Liquid Paper (the original Tipp-Ex) in 1951 and sold it to Gillette for US$47.5m in 1979. About $240 million in today’s Aussie dollars.

The Secret Broker can be found on Twitter here @SecretBrokerAU or on email at thesecretbroker@stockhead.com.au.

Feel free to contact him with your best stock tips and ideas.