Peoples Trust review: feature overview and opening an account

Note: There are 2 different banks called “Peoples Trust Company”. This article refers to the CDIC-insured Canadian bank “Peoples Trust” found online at peoplestrust.com. The main office is located in Vancouver and all references to Peoples Trust in this article refer to this bank. (The other bank at peoplestrustcompany.com is based in Vermont.)

Peoples Trust is a CDIC-insured bank based out of Vancouver BC, Canada, and with branches in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto. While Peoples Trust is not an online bank, they do allow for electronic transfer of funds to and from other Canadian financial institutions. However, in order to keep their costs low and offer the best interest rates possible, they do not offer all of the typical services you get at most other banks.

In their own words (source: peoplestrust.com):

Peoples Trust has become a very successful provider of financial services by combining price competitive products with truly exceptional customer service and support. Recognizing that a smaller organization cannot compete effectively in all areas, the company carefully examined the financial services industry and selected a number of product lines which could be offered with real added value. The compact nature of the organization ensures that operating overhead is well controlled and contained, resulting in the ability of the company to pass on these cost savings to you, the customers, in the form of improved interest rates… lower for borrowers and higher for investors.

Assets consist mainly of conventional and insured loans on predominantly multi-family residential properties located in major urban centers. Investor Services Focus on traditional short and long term RRSP and GIC products, together with mortgage banking for institutional investors. The company is particularly active in the Mortgage-Backed Securitization program as an Issuer.

Peoples Trust maintains a unique and enviable position among Canada’s financial institutions as a result of long-term profitability, steady asset growth and the ability to perform above and beyond customers’ expectations.

Why did I decide to try Peoples Trust?

Given the current state of the economy and low interest rates, a savings account rate of 4.0% is certainly enough to catch anyone’s attention (this only recently fell to 3.6%, which is still significantly higher than other banks). Offering a rate higher than many GICs (and even higher than some Mutual Funds as of January 2009!), there is certainly incentive to “test the waters” with a new financial institution. But is there a catch? At the end of this article, we’ll review some of the pros and cons. But first, let’s go through the account opening process.

Opening an account with Peoples Trust

You can access the full Peoples Choice Savings account terms and conditions here.

To open an account with Peoples Trust, visit:

http://www.peoplestrust.com/depositSerives.htm

and under “Peoples Choice Savings Account” click “purchase”. This will bring you to the online application form. The application process is straightforward and after submitting, you will receive a confirmation e-mail that looks like this:

Thank you for placing your savings with Peoples Trust!

You chose to place your savings in a Peoples Choice Savings Account and will begin earning interest from the day your first cheque/deposit is received by Peoples Trust. Your terms and rates are listed below.

If you have chosen to pay by Personal Cheque, please make it payable to yourself and mail it with your confirmation number written on the front to:

Peoples Trust Company
1400-888 Dunsmuir St.
Vancouver, BC V6C 3K4

If your funds are being transferred by Electronic Funds Transfer, your deposit will be processed on the next business day.
We will send you an official confirmation with your account details as soon as your deposit is received and processed.

————————————————————————
Confirmation Number : xxxx
Product : Peoples Choice Savings Account
Term : n/a
Rate : 4.000
Amount : $xxx
————————————————————————

Here’s what might set off a red flag for you: the cheque must be made payable to “Peoples Trust Company”. I must admit, this made me nervous, so I did some due diligence. I verified the Peoples Trust address with the CDIC, and made out a cheque for a much smaller amount than my full deposit. In a few weeks (yes, it takes that long), I received my Peoples Trust package in the mail with the initial “starter cheques” and account information.

Transactions

Peoples Trust offers no online banking capabilities. This means that you cannot check your balance or pay bills online. Also, only the first 5 transactions of the month are free (after the 5 transaction limit, there is a $1.50 charge per withdrawal, as of January 2009).

Notable features include:

  • Deposit a cheque by mail or personal delivery to a branch
  • Write cheques on your savings account
  • Transfer funds between your savings account and an external account at another financial institution (initiated by your external bank)
  • Transfers usually take about 1 business day and cannot be cancelled once initiated (you need to wait until the money has transferred, and then transfer it back again)
  • Set up or authorize withdrawals via phone or e-mail
  • Set up pre-authorized, automatic deposits into your Peoples Trust account
  • Check your balance and transaction history by phone

Notable omissions include:

  • No bill payment service
  • No ATM or debit card service
  • No electronic fund transfer to other account holders
  • All correspondence with Peoples Trust must be done via phone, e-mail (deposits AT peoplestrust DOT com), or by visiting a branch. This is also the case if you wish to take advantage of the other services offered by Peoples Trust (such as opening a GIC or an RRSP).

Pros

  • The interest rate posted is accurate, and paid monthly!
  • You can write cheques on your account (you get 4 free cheques with your starter kit, after that the minimum order is $29.00 for 50 cheques).
  • There are no hidden fees (when you keep your transactions to the limit of 5 per month), no minimum balance, and your funds are indeed CDIC insured for the standard $100,000 per account holder.
  • You get a monthly account statement via postal mail.
  • Good customer service: I was pleasantly surprised with the polite, helpful staff at Peoples Trust. The best way to get in touch with a representative, I have found, is by e-mail, which is usually replied to within 24 hours. While some might prefer a phone call, I much prefer e-mail to waiting for 15+ minutes on hold for a phone representative at some other high interest accounts (as I’m sure we all have experienced!)

Cons:

  • Of all the Canadian banks, Peoples Trust places the longest hold time on your deposits: up to 9 days. This, combined with the 5 transaction per month limit, means that if you’re very active with your account, you may want to hold an additional account for your main banking purposes, and consider Peoples Trust as more of an investment option than a daily bank account.
  • While you are sent a written monthly statement, Peoples Trust does not have online banking capabilities. This means that you can’t check your account balance or transactions using their website. However, you can link your Peoples Trust account with another online account and access your money via your ING, HSBC, PC Financial, and other online accounts (explained next).

How to link a Peoples Trust account to your other online accounts

Recall that electronic transfers between your Peoples Trust account and other institution’s account(s) are initiated from your other institution’s account(s).

Normally, to link 2 different online accounts, you would need to submit a personalized, void cheque from one institution to other the institution where you want to initialize transfers. However, in your starter kit from Peoples Trust, you are only given 4 cheques, none of which are personalized (with your name and address). Most of the online banks you call will insist that they will not accept anything but a personalized, void cheque in order to link accounts. This is not true!

Once you have opened an account with Peoples Trust and applied online with another financial institution to have your account linked, simply e-mail Peoples Trust and ask them to send an “account verification” to link to your other account (at HSBC, PC Financial, etc.). They require a fax number, address, and the name of a contact person in order to do this, but it will save you 30 bucks for the personalized cheques! It will take some time, but when completed, you will be able to transfer funds in and out of your Peoples Trust account electronically!

Summary

If you’re looking for a place to park your money until this unstable market settles (and beyond), Peoples Trust looks like a great option! Just be aware that you may need to do a little planning if you want to move your money in and out of this account.

 

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6 thoughts on “Peoples Trust review: feature overview and opening an account

  1. michael says:

    Contrary to the article, I was not able to link my People’s Trust account with my PC Financial account.

    I followed the directions above. People’s Trust sent a letter to PC Financial, requesting that they link the account with the information I gave them. PC Financial sent me a letter saying that the document does not meet their requirements, and reiterated, “A void cheque must be provided” (personalized, pre-printed).

    Has anyone had a different experience? (I have linked with HSBC by sending a bank statement, which is nice, but HSBC’s hold periods are too long.)

  2. James says:

    At the time of writing the above article, linking the accounts via the letter from Peoples Trust was possible. In fact, according to Peoples Trust, it was done routinely up until PC Financial started rejecting their letters.

    A representative from PC Financial confirmed that, although this may have been done previously, it is no longer an accepted method of linking the accounts. Furthermore, only a personalized cheque (with your name pre-printed on it) will suffice.

    Hope this helps clear things up.

  3. RoachX says:

    I’m interested in the peoples trust savings account but would like to clarify EFT.

    The peoples trust website ways to setup EFT you need to send them a cheque. However i would like to link my HSBC advance (formerly direct) account so that i can use its web interface. Do i still have to send any info to peoples trust or can i just go through HSBC’s linking procedure (send cheque or statement).

    Thanks

  4. Jen says:

    I confirm that about 2 month ago I have linked my HSBC advance (formerly direct) account to my Peoples Trust saving account as described by James. At that time I was not aware of this web site and this review. I have just figured out by myself. Congratulation to James, he presented a very accurate picture of their offer.

    It is comprehensible that some financial institutions make the linking process to external accounts more difficult. They are competitors!

  5. Bob says:

    As of this date you write cheques made payable to yourself and not People’s Trust when opening an account as stated in the article. Here’s the modified line from the email compared to the above:

    “If you have chosen to pay by Personal Cheque, please make it payable to yourself and mail it with your confirmation number written on the front to:”

    Reply from Peter (site admin): many thanks for the correction!

  6. Rob N says:

    I’m sorry to say that I ever had anything to do with this outfit, I got myself a pre-paid US Dollar Master card for US transactions but the card had an expiry date of November 2010, I immediately had Money mart contact peoples trust to request a new card for me which they said they would send out right away, after a month there was still no card so I called them and was told that no card was requested ( I was there when the call was made and I know they requested it) So I requested it again!
    Again no card showed up so I called yet again and was told that I had not requested a card (I have records of my calls as they were all made on a cell phone) or that I had even called, I was then told that a new card would be sent to me yet again but not to worry that the card i had would stay active beyond the expiry date as long as I kept loading the card which I was stupid enough to do again no card and dumb me put all my Xmas and bill money on the card so I could do some shopping in the US (I live closer to the stores in Montana than I do in Canada)and went to use my cards to get Xmas presents for my kids and pay a bill the card came up inactive and it would not release my funds to me, I phoned the company and was out right called a liar by the customer service girl and was told they had no record of me ever calling so there fore I had never called, they again told me they would send me a new card and it would take 7-10 business days to arrive (this was just before xmas) here it is 6 days in to the new year and gee guess what? No card! I called again today and was yet again told that I had never called but when I told them I was promised by a supervisor that a card would be there in 7-10 days they then (this less than a minute after they told me I was lying and had not called) informed that my last call had been on the 23rd of December and that 7-10 business days had not passed (Not sure how they figure that 14 days would not be 7- 10 days) and I would have to wait, when I asked them how come they had called me a liar and told me I had never called before then told that I had called on the 23rd they hung up on me.
    So after all this I still have no money no xmas presents and the NEW YEARS my wife and I had planned went to hell try explaining this to 3 kids, mabye you’ll have better luck than I.

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