Immaculately dressed at the door of a branch of a financial institution, the inspector of the Bank of Spain checks his watch again on a sunny day in March. It is a gesture that has repeated in the last minutes. But there is little left. Wait with your team for the second hand to mark exactly the set time. At the same time, together with other units, they will break into several offices of the same bank, scattered throughout the national geography.
In the following days of the first fortnight of March, this same operation was also applied to other entities, until completing a total of 189 branches of 12 different banks. Never before had this been done in a business accustomed to inspection behind the scenes and the gentleman's own white glove. But the crisis has left the reputation of the bank and the supervisor very badly damaged. From the preferential to the ground clauses, there is a more than justified feeling that the entities abused the trust of their clients to try to cover the excesses of the credit. Y, according to the report of the Congress published these days, the supervisor looked away.
So there are numerous changes to be made. Even if now a large part of the responsibility lies with the ECB, there is still field work that the Frankfurt supervisor does not reach. Not in vain, were the branches which, taking advantage of their direct dealings with the client, placed the products at large, which then ended in litigation everywhere.
Without prior warning, in a few days of the first half of March, the Bank of Spain launched a concerted campaign of inspection visits "to verify the degree of compliance with the regulations on information transparency and client protection", as reflected in the note published yesterday by the supervisor. It is the first experience of this kind made by the organization based in Cibeles. On previous occasions something similar has been carried out, but with a single entity of which there were suspicions regarding its behavior.
The operation sounds like mistery shopping, in which an inspector poses as a user to identify bad practices in the commercial network. But in the mistery shopping Many times the entity can claim an error of the worker or that it was an exceptional case. In this system the inspectors enter and identify themselves. They can demand and collect all the information that there is about the commercialization of financial products, mortgages, personal loans or credit cards. And that is documented evidence. No particular testimonies that can be refuted or misinterpreted. By systematically taking several branches, they can represent a much heavier charge.
"The inspectors also take pictures of the offices to verify that the exposed advertising is not misleading and that the messages that direct to the clients are adhered to the norm", emphasizes the brief note of the supervisor. The Bank of Spain does not want to provide much information so that this new system does not lose effectiveness.
The new practice coincides with the fact that Congress raised the need to change the supervision model. Instead of the one that now exists by sector, it proposes one in which the Bank of Spain is in charge of solvency. And the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) deals with consumer care and behavior. So the Bank of Spain would be snatched precisely this part of the supervision.
This new way of proceeding also adds to a greater number of sanctions against banks for behavior violations, most of them with fines of up to more than three million euros for lack of transparency.
All the evidence collected during the visits will be analyzed in the market behavior department of the Bank of Spain. "It will become a fundamental tool," says the supervisor. In its third meaning, the term raid means, according to the RAE, a "set of people or things that are taken or taken at one time".