Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Banking Tips

Power of Attorney (POA) banking can be a fraught process, both time-consuming and stressful.
Because banks don’t really want our money, they place all sorts of obstacles in the way of people opening POA accounts, often using money laundering regulations to justify their procedures.
And banks have different rules on how such accounts are opened and how they are operated.

Here are a few notes on how those banks I’ve used deal with POA accounts.

POA accounts usually need an application form, which you have to request, to be posted to the bank.
You will have to send the entire original LPA or EPA document, or a copy certified by a solicitor.
Most allow you only 14 days to fund an account and the clock starts ticking from the moment you make a telephone enquiry. With the account opening process taking an average of 3 weeks, this can be a problem.
When it arrives, ensure you complete the form exactly as instructed – use the correct colour of ink and tick every last box, including the ones about marketing.
Also ensure you follow instructions about identification documents to the letter.
Use recorded delivery for all communications
Tip – it might help the identification process if your loved one is on the Electoral Register – care homes generally don’t bother to register their residents.

Many banks don’t make their withdrawal limits clear.
Some also don’t tell you they can’t take instructions at the weekend.
Most won’t tell you why your instructions have been blocked.
And some don’t tell you exactly when your withdrawn funds are going to reach their destination.

These are the banks I have so far used for POA banking.


Unreliable, partly because their security system is over-sensitive – it is prone to stopping payments even to established payees.
Has a low daily withdrawals limit - £10K.
The bank isn't very interested in investigating complaints.
The website often crashes.


Antiquated, unreliable and slow.
Poor security – they don’t have a system of checks on withdrawals – they don’t send codes by SMS for example.
Deposits can only be made using a debit card, not by BACS. 
Deposits take at least 2 days to complete.
Withdrawals are debited from your account immediately but actually take between 2 days and 5 working days to complete. You can lose up to 7 days interest on your money.
The first withdrawal from a POA account is blocked for security reasons. You won't discover this until, out of frustration, you contact NS&I by phone. You have to talk to their fraud department, but they only work Mon-Fri 9 to 5.
Although you can make online transactions from the donor account, it does not have its own log-in, so you can't buy any NS&I savings product, such as Pensioner Bonds, on the donor's behalf, unless you use paper forms.
If you forget your password or secret questions, you have to phone NS&I. They will post you a Temporary Password. These are extremely difficult to read.
On the plus side, there is no daily withdrawal limit.
There is also no limit for compensation, because the bank is Government-backed.


Halifax has online banking for POAs but still uses old technology (post and telephone) if you have any queries. In addition to all the usual PINs, passwords and memorable data, you will need to register for telephone banking and get another set of PINs, passwords and memorable data.
It has a dedicated POA department.
It takes 10 minutes or so to get through by phone. HBOS staff often give out incorrect information.
The daily withdrawal limit by BACS is £25K; by debit card it is £60K.
There are no online withdrawals on Sundays.
Disconcertingly, the donor’s debit card has the Attorney’s name on it.

Sainsbury’s Bank

An incompetent bank, prone to making mistakes. On one occasion, its anti-fraud department stopped a payment until I confirmed that it was genuine. It then put the payment through. Then, just to be sure, it made the payment again.
Bank staff are clueless about most things POA.
LPA documents are returned speedily. Unfortunately, the bank ‘lost’ a document I sent it.
It is slow to answer complaints and slow to investigate them.
The withdrawal limit is £20K per day.
The Attorney’s name, instead of the donor’s, is attached to payments. You can ask staff not to do this  but it won't have any effect. This leads to difficulties when opening new accounts due to money laundering regulations - two payments from Sainsbury's were returned to sender because the donor's name was not on them.

Vanquis Bank

Clear instructions on opening POA accounts.
Very slow to return LPA documents.
The bank allows a month to fund a new account – by bank transfer. Once you start transferring funds you have 5 days to complete the process.
Even this may not be long enough to open an account – Vanquis returned my application form insisting I give the house name as well as its number.The name of the house must appear on the electoral register and Vanquis were determined to cross every 't' and dot every last 'i'.
Staff are fairly helpful though constrained by the bank's strict box-ticking procedures. 

Charter Bank

Clear instructions on opening POA accounts.
Allows only 14 days to fund new accounts and takes cheque deposits only.
Reluctant to admit to mistakes or to pay compensation – it denied receiving documents I sent it and blamed the Post Office. The documents turned up later but the bank still blamed the Post Office for late delivery.
I'd sent the cheque two weeks before but the bank sent the money back, without any interest.

Aldermore Bank

Reasonably clear instructions on opening POA accounts.
Allows only 14 days to fund new accounts.
Very slow to return LPA documents.

Paragon Bank

Very clear instructions on opening POA accounts.
Allows 30 days to fund new accounts.
All good so far.

Shawbrook Bank

Reasonably clear instructions on opening POA accounts.
Rather basic security.
Quite slow to return LPA documents.
You cannot view POA accounts online.
Allows only 14 days to fund new accounts.
Getting through on the phone is quick and staff are very helpful.

Skipton BS

Has a complicated POA account opening process.
Staff are not up to speed with POA account procedures.
You can only open new accounts by post or in branch.
Once registered for POA, a New Account Registration Form has to be completed for each new account.
You have to wait 14 days before you can withdraw money from a new account.
You cannot manage POA accounts online.
There are no online withdrawals on Sundays.