As the only bank in Canada that focuses solely on the needs of homeowners 55 and over, we’ve spent years working to ensure that they are treated fairly and with the respect they deserve. In July 2019, the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) released a new code of conduct called the Code of Conduct for the Delivery of Banking Services to Seniors (Seniors Code), which outlines the ways that banks should effectively deliver their products and services to Canada’s older demographic. This includes, in part, protection from financial abuse, fraud, and scams where possible, and educating consumers so they can make smart and sound financial decisions.
The Code of Conduct for the Delivery of Banking Services to Seniors released by the CBA, is a code that applies to all Canadian banks who serve at least in part, customers over the age of 60. The Seniors Code includes 7 principles which outline how a bank can better serve and accommodate the needs of older Canadians as well as the actions that can be taken to do so.
With the code in mind, we have made enhancements to our current processes to ensure our customers receive an optimal banking experience. For over 30 years we have been committed to serving older Canadian homeowners who want to retire in the home they love. It is important to us that they have the safety and security they deserve when they retire. With the help of this code, we will continue to honour that commitment.
Part of the code requires each bank designate a member of management to act as a “Seniors Champion” who will be instrumental in implementing the principles of the code, raising awareness for issues that affect older Canadians, and working with organizations focused on their needs. For our “Seniors Champion” we have designated our EVP of Marketing, Yvonne Ziomecki who has been with our company since 2013, serving older Canadians. Here’s why Yvonne is so passionate about taking on the role:
At HomeEquity Bank, it has always been important to us to develop practices that provide our demographic with the best possible customer experience. When this code was released however, we took it as a challenge to look for ways in which we could further improve that experience. Please see below the procedures we have in place to support the code.
Our many exceptional employees are the heart of our organization and the reason we can effectively deliver banking solutions to older Canadians. Each day, our customers place trust in our employees to provide them with clear, accurate information, and to protect them from financial harm. That is why with the help of Redwood Performance Group we have developed, a custom course with content directly relevant to the principles outlined in the code. The new training will help our employees fully understand the CBA’s Seniors Code and its principles, our power of attorney process , how to spot financial abuse and scams, and how to communicate effectively with all customers regardless of banking acumen. These resources are available on our internal site so that employees can access them at any time.
In addition to employee training, we have developed materials specifically for client-facing employees to aid them in better understanding the needs of our customers. These resources are available in a centralized location on our internal site so they can be accessed at any time with ease. One resource for example, is a questionnaire which can be used when a customer requests to add a POA to their file. The purpose of this questionnaire is to understand the POA’s purpose, and to confirm it is in the client’s best interest to add one to their file.
According to newly released data from Ipsos, 91% of Canadians 55 and older feel they are more vulnerable to fraud in today’s day and age, with more than half reporting they’ve been a target before. That is why it is crucial for us as a bank to do what we can to help mitigate potential financial harm to our customers. To do so, we have developed materials that educate our customers on the resources available to them so they can make sound financial decisions. For example, our customers have access to information regarding our Power of Attorney (POA) process to ensure they understand the responsibilities of a POA and the implications of adding one to their file. We also offer information on opening a joint deposit account and the questions to consider before doing so. Because it is a mandatory requirement that all our clients receive independent legal advice before taking a reverse mortgage, we’ve developed documents that discuss the ways in which a client can attain independent legal advice and the expectations one should have when dealing with an advisor.
The Commitment ensures we offer information about Powers of Attorney to our customers, that they understand what our Power of Attorney process is, and ensure only legitimate Powers of Attorney are added to accounts so that our customers are protected.What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows a person to appoint someone, (or more than one person), the authority to manage their affairs (including money and property) on their behalf. In most of Canada, the person they appoint is called an “attorney,” but that person does not need to be a lawyer.What is HomeEquity Bank’s POA process?
We understand that every person’s situation is unique, and that’s why we’ve made the process simple and convenient. Whether you need to add a POA as a new customer during the reverse mortgage application phase, or to add, change or remove your POA as an existing customer, our Reverse Mortgage Specialists and Client Relations Specialists will work closely with you to get this done.
To add a POA to a client’s account, we will need: the official Power of Attorney document; identification for both the Power of Attorney and the Borrower; and a completed POA questionnaire. The Bank’s Lawyers will review the POA document and supporting documents to ensure they are accurate and complete, in order to protect the customer, before proceeding. Please note that there is a fee involved for adding a POA to an account.
For more information on Powers of Attorney please visit: “What every older Canadian should know about: Powers of attorney (for financial matters and property) and joint bank accounts.” This document, developed by the Forum of Canadian Ministers Responsible for Seniors, has information on the roles and responsibilities of a POA and tools to determine if one is right for you. It also includes information on how joint deposit accounts work and what you should consider before setting one up.Customer Complaints:
If you have a complaint about our employees acting on a POA or attorney instructions, of any kind, we are committed to resolving it promptly and effectively. To help you get your complaint resolved, we encourage you to follow the process outlined here.
While considering the unique needs of our customers, we have been working proactively to enhance our business to make certain all customers are communicated with effectively regardless of any challenges that impact their ability to bank. We also have our clear language policy to ensure all communications are clear, simple and not misleading. This includes ensuring documents are easy to follow, understand, and are as non-technical as possible.
As part of our commitment to protecting older Canadians from financial abuse and fraud, we have partnered with former conman turned security consultant, Frank W. Abagnale, to develop an educational video series on spotting and preventing the most common scams. Since their release, the videos have received over 1 million views across our social media platforms, with positive responses from customers thanking us for providing helpful content. Some customers have stated they now feel significantly more confident in spotting and handling these scenarios.WATCH VIDEOS