Economy, Business And Markets

Premium Banking Services in Iran

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Premium Banking  Services in Iran
Premium Banking  Services in Iran

The Financial Tribune has conducted a field research on premium services offered by commercial banks in Tehran. It has found that not all the banks offer premium services and that some services are better and thus some banks are more reliable than others.

Among the newest services being listed by the banks, Parsian, a privately-owned bank, is offering Silver Lotus Current Account. With this, the bank aims to increase its clients' revenue by increasing customer satisfaction, through dealing with customers from a host of different backgrounds.        

The new service will include specially designed checkbooks, premium designed silver debit cards, VIP in-bank services, preferential loan rates, home and health insurance packages. The new checking account will also pay the excess cost of medical care after a person’s insurance has paid the initial figure. In addition to these services, Parsian has also announced it is teaming up with other companies to offer preferential prices on products in partner retail stores.

Research shows that a great service can play a key role in customer retention throughout changes in fee structures. In fact, among all businesses, banks have the highest correlation between customer experience and likelihood of switching businesses. Banks are also able to offset dissatisfaction with fees through other areas, namely problem resolution.

In an interview with the Financial Tribune, a Parsian branch manager in Tehran confirmed the bank’s new current account, Silver Lotus. The manager said that long-term clients (who’ve held an account for 6 months or more) garner points as a part of their preferential treatment; these points then are accounted next to their account balance. These customers usually have to have a business or deposit large sums of money into their bank accounts (exact figure not known). The account holders also receive a special edition checkbook, which is only available to the VIP account holders. She added that Silver Lotus clients can also enjoy the availability of short-term loans at preferential rates.

In addition to these services, Lotus members receive Sharia compliant (credit) cards with 150-250 million-rial credit. If a lawyer or physician were to open an account, the Parsian branch manager said, adding that they would receive a credit line of up to 500 million rials. In addition to these benefits, she said, account holders would receive fire insurance coverage of up to 50 million rials.

When we went to ask the same questions from Dey Bank officials, one branch manager, who didn’t want to be named, said, “The Central Bank of Iran doesn’t allow branches to offer special services.” However, he did say that if a businessperson wanted to open an account in their branch, they would personally offer better services by dealing with the branch manager directly.

“Account holders would also receive better deposit rates based on their financial history and personal health,” he added. The manager also said that familiarity is also an important factor when dealing with clients, as branch managers are not likely to offer the rate unless the individual is known to the bank.

Next up was, Bank Melli – one of Iran’s oldest banks. The branch manager again didn’t want to be named but did say their premium customers receive a VIP access card from the branch, which gives the customer preferential treatment when having their transactions processed. He also said they would provide special services to the customers if they were among the more premium-end customers.

Moreover, a Tourism Bank branch manager said their bank also was restricted by the central bank when offering “VIP treatment”. He did mention that customers at their branch are given a special online code for pre-banking services before arriving; this would enable the customer to give a heads-up to the branch manager before they enter the bank. However, he said “banking in the past few years has become increasingly difficult and we are struggling to keep our clients due to offers being given by other competitors.” However, in the case of someone wanting to leave their bank, his branch would make sure the client would receive encouraging offers to keep them custom.

 ‘Platinum’ Customers

Tejarat Bank came next, and its branch manager was more than receptive to bring in high-profile clients. He said his bank offers special interest rates to large depositors, anything from 21 to 30 percent loan repayment interest [loans given under a month by Islamic contract]. He said as branch manager, he could offer high profile clients certain privileges such as specific repayment periods on agreed loans. The bank manager stated that when offering a loan to a customer, specific regulations would remain in place when taking out a loan, and this would include leaving a copy of someone’s property deeds, a reserve deposit along with a promissory note from a guarantor.

Saderat Bank, opened in the 1960s, was the next branch our correspondent dropped by. The branch manager there said that his bank has long offered special premium services to select customers. Mohammad Javad Jamshidi did explain the services his bank offers, but said the bank separates the high-rolling customers into two distinct groups.

Firstly, “Platinum” customers, or ones who bring in large sums of money to the bank, are as Jamshidi classified as the “true VIPs”; these are the type of customers who have a long financial history with the bank, and whose deposits are in excess of 300 billion rials (about $10 million). These VIPs receive the true meaning of a VIP service. Firstly, they receive a special card from the bank - he didn’t mention what kind - which allows them access to certain special branches like the private Saderat Bank on Fereshteh Street in northern Tehran. He mentioned that these customers will also receive a special card giving them access to airport lounges, but would also receive gratis hotel accommodation if their flight at that airport is delayed for whatever reason. The VIP card would also give a sort of concierge service to these special clients by sending them gifts on special religious festivals.

Ayandeh Bank, formerly Tat Bank, was the last bank we stopped at. When asked about the premium banking services, the branch manager who also didn’t want to be named, said his bank did not offer premium banking services to clients, and wouldn’t disclose any information if they did.