Is Bank of Ireland chief Richie Boucher bullying homeowners into taking the mortgage deals that suit his bank, or genuinely trying to reshape the market here to reflect the lessons of the crash?
Probably a bit of both. The famously combative bank chief certainly took the wind out of Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath’s sails at the Finance Committee yesterday.
McGrath has been an outspoken champion of Irish variable-rate borrowers who have been paying the highest borrowing costs in Europe.
But Boucher’s candid admission that he’s keeping those prices high in order to get customers off variable rates caught McGrath and his colleagues off guard.
So why are large numbers of Bank of Ireland customers – the bank won’t say how many – choosing to remain in more costly variable rates even though its free and easy to switch? It may reflect suspicion on the part of customers – ‘if its good for the bank, it must be bad for me’ – but in many cases people stick with more expensive loans because of inertia.
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