Most of the employees speak very good English and they have always been very helpful. As soon as I walk up to a teller, they greet me by my first name and a big smile. It’s not just me. They seem to know every single customer by their first name. If I see one of the HSBC employees when I’m at the grocery store or a restaurant, they are always quick to say “Hello Jackie”.
Anytime I have had a problem, they get on the phone to resolve it quickly. For example, a few months ago I wired some money from my bank in the US. It usually takes a few hours for the funds to hit my account. But this time after 24 hours the money was still not there. I went in to the bank to find out why. They immediately called the wire department in Panama City to find out they were installing new software and that was the cause of the delay. The next day, the funds were readily available.
All the other banks in Panama required 3 to 5 days to open an account because everything has to be sent to Panama City for approval. Even if you open the account in Panama City, it will take 3 to 5 days for final approval because there are several layers in the approval process.
All banks require two bank reference letters. HSBC allows their local banks to call the referring bank to confirm that they wrote the letter. Other banks in Panama require that an office in Panama City verifies the letter…. causing the delay.
But HSBC is no more….
A few months ago, HSBC Panama was bought out by a big bank out of Columbia. Last week, they changed the signs at HSBC to Banistmo. ( http://www.banistmo.com/en/home ) This is a good thing because, unlike HSBC, Banistmo does not have any offices in the United States. Luckily, all the same great employees are working at the bank. The online banking with Banistmo is excellent. The only change is the sign out front.
Banistmo will also open accounts in about 1 hour if you bring the proper documentation which includes:
two bank reference letters, must be two different financial institutions
two bank or credit card statements
two forms of ID (passport and driver’s license)
During the Panama Relocation Tours we will help you open a bank account.