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Banks told to stop marketing loans, credit cards on phone

(Haseeb Haider) / 22 March 2011

ABU DHABI — The Central Bank of the UAE has ordered banks and financial institutions not to disturb potential customers anymore by calling them on their telephones to market loans and other financial products.

The banking regulator issued a circular to this effect, saying: “It has noticed that many bank representatives or entities entrusted by banks with marketing its products, are in the habit of calling targeted customers directly by phone, causing such customers a lot of disturbances, which also gives a negative impression about the status of UAE banks.”

“Therefore, it has been decided to prohibit marketing bank loans and other services offered to individual customers through direct contact by telephone,” the circular added.

According to financial industry sources, the Central Bank was prompt in taking action as telesales staff of some banks were calling the public by phone to pitch them for bank loans.

Samia Bouazza, a marketing director of an Abu Dhabi-based real estate firm, said: “I am sure that the Central Bank would have done proper due diligence before taking this step.”

Shafi Ullah, a manager at a multi-national organisation in Dubai, said that on average he receives up to three SMSs, sometimes late in the evening, from local shopping outlets on their promotional offerings, which disturbs him. “I don’t want to receive them ... it’s intrusion in my privacy,” he said.  

But, not everybody hates such ‘cold calls’, as many customers want to know latest offerings on the market also.

Samia said that recently an Abu Dhabi-based bank’s telesales staffer called on her phone to tell that they have a new service, which allows payment of Salik card dues, a much needed service.

The banking industry, which received the circular on Sunday evening, was “shocked” as direct marketing is one of the most effective ways to approach a potential customer.

Many banks have their own direct marketing teams, while many have outsourced their credit card and loan-marketing business.

There are up to 3,000-3,500 people involved in marketing financial products, out of which at least 20-30 per cent are telemarketing personal, whose future now hangs in balance.

A marketing manager of a financial institution told Khaleej Times that under the new situation, marketing executives would have to focus on building personal contacts, and market their products through advertisements, emails and leaflets and above all the social media.



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