The French Banking System vs The Economy


I discovered very quickly in my meeting with the English speaking French personal banker, that in this socialist country, the highest priority is given to protecting the little guy from fraud and money laundering, and the banking system has been designed accordingly.

Elise described all the monthly fees for my account, then proceeded to tell me that there was a weekly limit of 700€ that could be drawn from ATM machines (some of the other banks have a 500€ limit) and 2,000€ through eftpos or online. I was surprised at this forced method of saving, but also a bit concerned because I had some big purchases ahead, such as buying a car. In that instance, she informed me I should pre-arrange with her how much the purchase would be and she would give me a temporary increase.

It’s no wonder the economy isn’t doing well. I would have thought that money launderers would have more sophisticated ways than making big retail purchases, or withdrawing lots of money from ATMs. ATMs are also only found at banks so if you need to pay cash for something, you need to know where banks are located. It also seems they don’t have internet banking.

The scrutiny gets much tougher if you want to withdraw large sums of money. Even though it’s your money, you can’t just go and access it, but have to have a good reason and proof of why you need it.

On the positive side my bank, Credit Agricole (which is like a credit union),  offer fixed rate mortgages currently at 1.5% (for the entire 10 years of the mortgage) and floating rates that are capped at 2% above the floating rate.  Maths is not my forte, but it would seem they pay out more than they bring in.  Perhaps all the fees make the difference.

The country doesn’t seem to have heard of the saying that “one man’s spending is another man’s income”. I’m here to help, but perhaps it’s a good thing to have my spending restricted for a change, particularly with so many antique fairs to go to.

Nina RichardsComment