The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


America Is Modern History …

So I’ve already written how much I’m enjoying LA.

That doesn’t mean it’s better than China, just different.

I say that because there’s a huge amount of things about China I miss.

People. [Or at least some of them]
Clients. [Or at least some of them]
Culture. [Nearly all of it]

But there’s one thing I miss in its entirety and that’s how China deals with money.

More specifically, how China has embraced technology to enable people to transact their cash.

Of course, part of this is because China LOVES getting people to spend money and so the easier they make it, the easier it will be to get people to do it but then America – a land the Middle Kingdom copied in terms of capitalistic tendencies – is supposed to be a ‘spend society’ so I’m absolutely shocked how backwards they are in terms of embracing technology for finance.

Everywhere I go … everything I buy … can only be obtained with a credit card or a cheque.

A fucking cheque.

Seriously.

Oh yes, there’s the odd ‘Apple Pay’ option, but as we all know, that’s a piece of crap – especially compared to WeChat – so basically I’m in a situation where for the first time in literally 20 years, I am using cheque books.

At first, I thought they were joking, then I opened my bank account and they sent me 6 cheque books “to get me started”.

Six!!! Hahahahaha.

Thank God I was a pre-existing AMEX customer so I could get a local card otherwise – given the way America only offers you credit if you’re wildly in debt – I’d have to buy a bloody newspaper with a cheque.

The World may laugh at QR codes, but China has shown how they can be used to change the way people behave and transact with money forever. If America wants to be great again, modernizing their approach to money might be a good first step.



The Final Countdown …

So I feel this week is where I start walking across the bridge from where my life has been to where my life will be.

In the next 3 weeks, my life is going to change quite a bit.

On Wednesday, I stop working at a place I have loved.

Less than a week later, I stop living in a home, in a city, in a country that I have loved.

A place where my son was born and where – in many ways – my life changed forever.

Then thanks to timezone madness, later that same day, my entire family – wife, son, cat – arrive in Los Angeles.

A place that feels a trillion miles away from where we have been.

A place that we will be calling home.

While I don’t start work for another 2 weeks, there will be so much to sort out.

Bank accounts … phones … cars … a home … while ensuring we create the time to explore and discover our new surroundings as a family.

And then, just 3 weeks later, I officially start my totally new and exciting adventure.

Wow, that’s a lot of change in a very short time … but apart from the fact we’ve done this sort of move countless times before [albeit without a child in tow] it feels exciting.

OK, so there’s also a bunch of headaches we have to contend with … and the reality is we won’t be able to truly feel ‘settled’ until we have a home, with all our furniture inside and a basic understanding of how everything operates in LA … but as I mentioned before, to have this opportunity at my age is one I feel truly fortunate to have, so as long as we’re together and happy, we can deal with most things.

But I’ll tell you something that didn’t make me happy.

HSBC.

Yes … I know I’ve written about them many, many times before and if I was sane, I would have stopped working with all their offices rather than just the ones in China and Australia … but I didn’t, so I accept some blame for what I am about to whine about.

So when you move to the US, one of the biggest obstacles to settling there is that you need a good credit rating.

Everything – and I mean everything – is dependent on you being seen as ‘financially credible’.

Without a good credit rating, you will find it hard to get a place to live, a car, a credit card … you name it, you’re screwed.

This issue is only magnified if you are new to the country because not only do you start with zero, it takes a hell of a long time to earn it.

But then I got told HSBC – the World’s local bank – could set you up with a US bank account and the credit history you had earned in one country, could be transposed to America.

Result.

So I call up HSBC in Hong Kong and ask them if they can do it.

“Of course we can sir, it only takes about 10 days”.

I was so thrilled that I didn’t quite hear what they said next.

“… you just have to come into the branch to discuss it”.

I quickly woke up and enquired if they meant ‘any HSBC branch’.

“Oh no sir, you have to come to the branch you opened the account”.

I told them that might be difficult as I lived in Shanghai so was there any alternative – like going to a Shanghai branch instead.

“No”.

That was their response. No.

I asked if they could check and call me back and they said they would.

They didn’t call back.

I went through the whole thing again.

Same answer.

Could you check and call me back?

They said they would. They didn’t.

In the end, I had to fly to HK to get them to do it.

Yep, I had to buy a ticket so I could get on a plane and fly 2 hours just so I could go to the brand and hear them me “Why do you want to open an account in the US?”

How I restrained myself from saying “Because I want to launder all my ill-gotten gains and apparently you’re good at that, I do not know …

OK, so it wasn’t as bad as the time ANZ Bank in Australia made me fly from Singapore to Sydney so I could given them a cheque to buy a bloody house, but it’s up there.

Was it worth it?

Who the hell knows … I guess we’ll find out in a week, but for a bank that has continually acted illegally, I find it laughable they’re such sticklers for protocol on relatively small matters, but not nearly as laughable as their claims that they’re the ‘World’s Local Bank’.

Look at that, I haven’t even moved to the US yet and I’m bitching.

There’s hope for this blog yet …