When I opened my bank account in France, an employee at the bank sat down with me to ask me some questions about myself, take my documents, and open my account. Standard enough. What’s different from the States is that this person became my conseiller, or account advisor, and he remains my contact at the bank. I have his professional email address.
Last year he left me a voicemail to prendre un rendez-vous, or make an appointment. It was so unexpected that I didn’t even realize it was him when I heard the message. Why would he ask to have a meeting when I didn’t even contact him?
At the time I expressed my surprise to a friend who has been living in France for decades. He responded that it was normal to have a relationship with your account advisor. He meets with his every year. Well, that astonished me. After asking around, I concluded that not everyone in France does this, but it is not shocking if you do, either.
I accepted the meeting out of curiosity. Basically my conseiller asked me information to update my account, such as my address, job status, income, and how I pay for expenses: things that Americans consider none of their business as long as we have money in our account and are reliable customers. I accept cultural differences and found the whole experience interesting, though next time I’d probably decline the unnecessary appointment.
Recently I changed my account to a very similar type of account. I called my bank branch to ask them to do this, and they of course asked me to prendre un rendez-vous with my account advisor. So I scheduled a phone appointment with him for during my lunch break on a day that we were both available, and we made the change.
After speaking with him, I realized that I wanted to remove one of the services of my account and also inquire about the cost of another basic feature. I emailed him these requests. A couple of days later, he responded that we had to prendre un rendez-vous to make the change. He also did not answer my question, most likely because he figured that we could discuss it during our meeting. He asked me when I would be available after April 1st, meaning the earliest I could have an appointment was almost two weeks after I sent my email.
The change that I requested and the question that I asked could easily be handled over a brief email exchange. By the time I get home from work, my bank branch is closed, so the only day I can go in for a meeting is Saturday, when everyone else who works during the week makes their appointments. Not to mention that I’d rather spend my Saturday in the park, with a friend, cooking, or doing anything other than meeting my account advisor to “discuss” something that could be done in two minutes over the phone or email.
Let me explain that I am not rolling in dough. I do not have a special bank account. I am a small fry. Judging from my basic account, it should be obvious to my account advisor that while I am a consistent client, I am not going to opt for any extra services he touts. So why does he insist that I prendre un rendez-vous every time I have a little question? He is cute, but it isn’t enough.