1.1 Member banks of the Albanian Association of Banks (AAB) present this Code of Banking Conduct (referred to as the Code in further text) in order to:
- Set standards of good conduct and open communication amongst banks and in relation to customers;
- Act fairly and reasonably in all their dealings with customers;
- Strengthen customer confidence in the banking sector as a whole;
- Enhance the visibility and reputation of the banking industry;
- Promote responsibility, transparency and professionalism in the banking business;
- Adopt a responsible attitude towards society in general and to the AAB Members customers, personnel and competitors.
2. General Principles
2.1 The Code represents a platform by which banks regulate their business transactions with clients (on an individual and corporate basis), as well as with other banks. The Code enshrines values readily accepted and implemented by banks in their day to day conduct of business relations.
2.2 Banks shall honour competition and market conditions in striving to achieve higher standards to the benefit of their clients.
2.3 AAB Members shall take measures to prevent any use of their services for the purpose of money laundering or the financing of terrorism.
2.4 The Code consists of basic elements to be applied by each bank as part of their internal rules and regulations.
2.5 The Code is designed to build client awareness of the methods used by banks to conduct business transactions so that clients know what to expect when dealing with banks.
2.6 AAB Members shall abide by all relevant laws applicable in the Republic of Albania, the regulations laid down by Bank of Albania, by other documents adopted by AAB, and any other professional standards as may be applicable, all of which shall be deemed to be readily accepted and applied by each member bank.
3. Confidentiality And Bank Secrecy
3.1 Banks and their staff will observe a strict duty of confidentiality towards their customers and will not disclose neither details of customers’ deposits, nor any other information and data that they come across while dispensing of their banking duties, unless it is so required by the law on right to information.
3.2 Banks shall use or exploit the information concerning clients, their accounts and transactions only for purposes of efficient management and provision of banking services in compliance with the rules for the protection of personal data. Customers shall be granted access to personal accounts’ information to verify and/or correct subsequent inaccuracies.
3.3 Bank information systems should be specially protected from unauthorized access to bank files in order to protect banks’ and clients’ interests and to preserve data integrity.
3.4 Whenever legally bound or customer authorised, banks will exercise maximum discretion while processing information derived at any stage of operations (before, during or following termination of contractual relationships) and they will take all reasonable and possible measures to comply with the obligations above.
3.5 The exchange of consolidated information between/among banks in relation to customer categories whether as part of the electronic transfer of quantitative data for statistical purposes or otherwise, does not constitute a breach of confidentiality if it is accomplished in compliance with the legal provisions of the law on protection of personal data.
4. Bank Relations With Clients
4.1. The rules of this Code govern relations between banks and their customers. The aim is to protect the interests of customers and banks in compliance with the legislation in force, the relevant credit and monetary regulations of the Bank of Albania and business ethics.
4.2. Banks shall not engage in any coordinated action or arrangement with any other bank or organization aimed at fixing service fees, dividing the scope of activities or excluding, without any legitimate reason, certain customers from certain services.
4.3. Relations between banks and their customers should be based on mutual trust; both parties will always encourage honest and systematic exchange of information on all aspects so their transactions shall be timely, exact and complete.
4.4. When executing transactions, banks will show due diligence; they shall provide full information to the customer in all branches, by making available in their premises information leaflets on the basic banking services offered, and provide, in each case, all the necessary details, in clear and simple form; draw attention to the risks involved, handle customer complaints with the utmost care, including an objective investigation of the claim and not concealing personal error on the part of the bank’s staff.
4.5. Banks shall submit key data and their respective changes to AAB, so as to make them uniformly available to the general public.
4.6. Banks shall provide adequate education to their employees and associates so that they can entirely respond to their clients’ needs.
4.7. When applicable, customers will be notified in advance of any change to the terms and conditions governing their relationship with the bank, in the most appropriate manner in each case, collectively or individually. They will be given reasonable notice before any change takes effect, to enable them to terminate their relationship with the bank if they so wish.
4.8. When a client notices a mistake in a banking transaction and informs the bank of such, a bank will attempt to verify the claim as timely as possible and correct such mistake without delay.
4.9. In cases of financial difficulties of bank clients, the bank will take reasonable steps to act as a partner with the client.
5. Relations Between Banks
5.1. Banks adhere to same existing regulations in mutual relations and business transactions as they do with other business subjects, with a special emphasis on protecting interests of the bank industry and fairness with regards to relations, loyal competition, while trying to maintain good reputation of other banks.
5.2. Banks shall not obtain or use business secrets in any unfair way, and shall not disclose business secrets to third parties, or make business secrets public without the permission of the other party concerned.
5.3. Hiring staff from other banks should always be done in good faith and in accordance with sound business practices.
5.4. In their effort to attract business, banks may advertise the advantages of the services offered but not the weaknesses, if any, of other banks, and refrain from using, highlighting or exploiting any unfortunate incidents involving specific banks, for the purpose of attracting customers or raising doubts in the public’s mind.
5.5. Senior officers or other employees authorised to make official statements on behalf of their bank shall not make any public statements concerning another bank or the activities, intentions or capabilities thereof, which might give rise to any negative conclusions regarding the other bank’s situation or objectives.
5.6. If a bank, signer of this Code, encounters difficulties, experiences loss of clients’ confidence or finds itself in a difficult business situation, the entire banking industry will suffer from negative repercussions. Since all banks, accepting the Code have also accepted the principles of good banking practice, every bank is ready to give another bank assistance at its request, undertaking all measures in order to retain client trust while preserving its own business interests.
5.7. Should problems or misunderstandings arise between banks that have accepted this Code, banks commit themselves to attempt to find a solution constructively through dialogue based on the principles of good banking practice. If a dialogue between two (or more) parties does not result in a solution, banks shall primarily attempt to solve the dispute within AAB.
6. Bank Promotion And Advertisement
6.1. Banking communications, advertising and other marketing activities must:
- be in accordance with relevant legislation in force from time to time and all regulations enacted under such legislation,
- be truthful, illustrating with clarity the proposed dealings without exaggerations, and shall not include inaccurate or misleading information or unduly overstate or attempt to conceal the features of the products and services on offer, and shall not attempt to exploit the public’s ignorance or misapprehensions,
- be within the spirit of fair competition, shall pay due regard to customers’ trust of banks and to the Banking system’s good reputation, shall ensure that it does not provoke the general public’s concern with regard to any one credit institution, and shall refrain from making defamatory remarks about other banks’ products either directly or indirectly.
6.2. As far as this is possible, a common terminology must be applied in bank advertisements in relation to quoting interest rates, so as customers may be able to compare similar products and services across different banks. Information used for comparison purposes must be based on accurate data which can be verified, and must be comprehensive as prescribed by good faith and good practice, in order to communicate proper, adequate and impartial information to the public at large.
6.3. It shall not be allowed to reproduce the content of advertisements, which are currently or have in the past been used by other financial institutions to promote a certain financial service or product nationally or internationally.
7. Final Provisions
7.1. This Code is a public document and shall be publicly accessible at the official premises of AAB.
7.2. This Code becomes effective on the day of its adoption by the Assembly of Members and its provisions shall be applicable from that date.
7.3. Amendments and supplements to the Code can be initiated by any member of AAB, and must be unanimously accepted by all members in order to become effective 30 days following their acceptance.
7.4. AAB shall be responsible for interpreting, amending or completing the Code and for monitoring its application. Banks shall provide every assistance to AAB to accomplish this task.