I know most people on this board are generally very positive on Bison and seem to recommend it over BiG for US investors. I wanted to document my experience so far, that has left me wanting - not sure if BiG is any better, but if there are BiG US investors on this board, I would love to hear more from them on their experience.
Point of Contact
Nuno - seems to be the most common point of contact for most users here. I have found him VERY responsive - as in he responds to emails the same day (so there is usually a response when I wake up for messages sent the previous day). However, the actual problems take forever to solve and multiple reminders and emails to resolve.
I was sent a whole bunch of PDF documents to fill out and send. I filled the documents out and sent via Dropbox and they were promptly reviewed and some corrections pointed out which I made and resubmitted. They were acknowledged, and I was thanked and told to not forget to also drop the physical forms in the mail - I got the sense (my bad) that that was primarily for backup, and that the account opening could proceed with what I had uploaded (signed and scanned forms), because why else would I need to upload all these forms electronically. So I mailed them via US Mail.
Over two weeks later, when I enquired about the account opening, I was told they never received the forms and that accounts could not opened till they are received. So I then UPS’ed the forms and got acknowledgement they were received as I saw via tracking. Then two more weeks pass - and I send multiple emails and eventually get an out of office from Nuno, and then after pinging my lawyer to see if they ping their contacts at Bison, I get a response from someone else that it will take the rest of the week. That week passes - still no account. Then the following week, my lawyer threatens to take my business to BiG (which I asked them to help me do) and then suddenly the accounts are opened the same day. However, I do not get online access to my accounts for another day, as the “online” person is out. I also do not get my USD IBAN, for yet another 3 days after that - for some reason apparently only Nuno can give me that.
So to open the account and get online and all IBANs, it takes little over 5 weeks (including 2 weeks of delay for missing mail - which I was not clear was critical path) - and is with some threats from my lawyer to take my business elsewhere.
I sent some test USD wire transfers from US bank accounts to make sure they get there ok - before sending bigger ones for share purchase. One week after the banks confirm they were successfully sent, they are not in my account. I send all the wire confirmations and details to Nuno, who passes them on to his “operations team” and they disappear into a black hole. After pinging him almost every two days, a week or so later (about two weeks after they were sent), thankfully the wires finally show up in my account.
I ask if I can just wire the money to the fund that I buying the shares from and I am informed that they (Bison) in fact need to buy the shares for me, and so I need to upload the share purchase agreement via online banking. I promptly upload the same and it is acknowledged immediately via email. A week later, I am still waiting for any update on the share purchase - the money is still in the account and no shares. Hopefully sometime in the next couple of weeks the shares will be purchased.
A small nit, but for some reason the Bison mobile app is not the US App Store. So you can only use the website from the US.
Now I realize things are slower in Portugal, and maybe this is par for the course, but I would love to know if other banks offer better service. Maybe this is in fact great service, and I need to recalibrate what it takes to do business there.
I am worried because we need to make sure the applications can get submitted before all the other documents expire (given some of them have such short validity periods). And every step with the bank and purchases seem to take weeks not days to resolve.