Banks fight for your cash

Originally published in Volume IV, Issue 2 on  10th October 1997 by Katherine O'Callaghan. The rivalry between AIB and Bank of Ireland at Belfield became apparent during first year registration when a heated argument broke out between the student advisors for each bank. The disagreement appears to have arisen over whether AIB were attempting to sign up students accounts on campus. Bank of Ireland say they have paid for the rights to be the ‘only bank on campus.’Mr. Brian Harman of BoI approached AIB and attempted to prevent them distributing information, according to Ms. Mary Allen of AIB. He made the claim that President Cosgrove’s office was complaining about the presence of AIB on campus and that the President himself would be arriving down to speak to AIB. “He is coming down now,” Mr. Harmon reportedly said. Ms. Allen was suitable worried but when a call was made to the President’s office, AIB were informed that President Cosgrove was in fact in Australia at the time and so unlikely to be appearing.  When asked about this incident Mr. Harman denied that this was the sequence of events and said that what was meant was “if President Cosgrove was there we would have contacted him.” Mr. Harman also denied knowledge of his ‘rival’ student advisor asking the University Observer “Who’s Mary Allen?” He added “there was nothing personal about it, we were protecting our patch but it was AIB who was violating the agreement.” Ms. Allen said “We were only giving out information. The agreement was that we would not open accounts on campus and we were not opening accounts.” Ms. Allen says that several incidents took place during registration. She told the University Observer that the “Bank of Ireland used bullying tactics” and that she is “very angry about the tactics used.”However, Ms. Allen does not wish the incident to adversely affect the relationship between the two banks. Mr. Harman has said in his defence: “We went through all the correct channels. We contacted the college before approaching AIB. We spoke to Tony Scott of Public Affairs, buildings officer Aidan Grannell and college secretary Gerry Wright. As far as I’m concerned we did nothing to hide.” Mary Allen says “the idea of ‘exclusive rights’ has never been clarified. Our understanding of it has been that only Bank of Ireland can conduct financial business on campus. And we have not been conducting financial business.” However Mr. Harman claims AIB were “encroaching on registration” and in “violation of the agreement that Bank of Ireland have exclusive rights to the Belfield campus.” He says that AIB were handing out account opening forms and “if they weren’t opening accounts what were they doing with the forms?” AIB have responded that there is “nothing wrong with competition, in fact students benefit from it.” Both banks say that their recruitment levels have not changed despite what appears to be a very strong drive from AIB. It has been suggested that this ‘aggressive marketing’ is coinciding with the approaching expiry of the UCD Bank of Ireland contract and furthermore, that the probability of a bank in the future student centre is increasing the race to control the finances of the students of the Belfield campus.