VMBS hikes fees but still claims status as low-cost leader
Courtney Campbell, president of the Victoria Mutual Group (VMBS) says fee increases, which took effect on Emancipation Day, August 1, are negligible and still positions the financial house as a low-cost leader in the local market.
Campbell said that of the more than 70 services offered by local banks, VMBS continued to be the lowest cost provider.
"We still have the lowest fees in the market and we charge nothing for 17 services, including ABM and point-of-sale transactions," he said, when asked about the slate of new charges that took effect this week.
However, mortgage application processing and third-party in-branch transfer fees, which were previously waived, are being reinstated. VMBS, whose core business is mortgage loans, said the mortgage application processing fee is a taxable 0.5 per cent of the loan amount, while the competition "charges up to 3.5 per cent", and that its third-party in-branch transfer fees are still below the rates charged by other major industry players.
Some of the increased charges include special delivery instructions, up from $1,300 to $1,400; local returned cheques, from $2,300 to $2,450; stop-payment orders, from $500 to $550; outgoing local transfers to third party accounts, from $275 to $300.
The new schedule also features some fee reductions. Incoming transfers from third-party accounts have fallen from $175 to $100; and where fees are cited in US dollars, some amounts have been reduced and others maintained at current levels.
Standing orders are free at VMBS, as are banking services conducted via its ABMs and online platform.
VMBS told the Financial Gleaner that the fee adjustments relate primarily to services that involve cash-handling charges that are passed on to VMBS by its commercial bankers, as well as other services that are proving more expensive to administer due to increases in the cost of doing business.
Campbell said the mortgage bank will continue to offer ATM serves free at its own machines.
The new fee schedule, he said, is part of "a wider review" of charges, which banking institutions engage in at least one per year.
"The last time we did the analysis of the entire market, based on published data on the BOJ website, of the 40 services listed that we offer, we were the lowest or zero in 31 of them," Campbell said.
"We still have the lowest fees generally in the market and, in fact, we charge nothing for almost 20 services, including ABM," he added.
The VMBS communications unit also pointed to other reductions, citing a "40 per cent reduction on lost/stolen/ damaged ABM cards to $400; 43 per cent reduction on incoming RTGS to third-party accounts at other banks to $100; and 100 per cent reduction on pound sterling foreign currency cash lodgements to $0.00."