QUITE a few people responded to the ''What is a bank'' question posed last week. Most had complaints. One was a nice little earner for Standard Chartered, faxed by a customer under the impression he was being diddled. Surely not. The bank sent him a letter telling him about Business Financial Services, new bells and whistles added to business accounts. You, the lucky customer, can get phone banking, an improved statement, and better payroll services. If the average daily balance in your account is less than $30,000, you pay $120 a month for this, as you will discover if you keep reading right to the bottom of the letter. Our informant has a small company with a low average daily balance and is well-organised enough not to need these extra services. Tough. The firm has to pay anyway. The letter sent out by Clara Chong, marketing manager for personal banking, somehow forgot to mention this. However, she has confirmed it to Lai See. Standard Chartered has effectively introduced a fee for customers who, in the opinion of the bank, aren't keeping enough cash in their accounts. Small traders who only read the headline ''As of now you can have greater control over the management of your company's finances'' and are not telepathic may have missed this. Across divide AHA. So that's what The King is doing these days. The Bombay office of accountancy firm Arthur Andersen sent a fax to Dave Brown of QAD. On the cover, it said: ''If you do not receive all pages or have any problems with receiving, please call [telephone number] and ask for ELVIS.'' Across fence REACTIONS are coming in from Hong Kong economists about the reported suspension of China's austerity drive. Most reckon it's good news for the Hong Kong market. But weren't they saying that the start of the programme was good news too? For old times YESTERDAY the mail brought a book full of facts from Macau's Census and Statistics Department. It included a lengthy section on forecasts of inflation and economic growth - for 1993. Waiting until October to produce 1993 forecasts should make it easier to hit the targets, at least. More intriguing is that the 1992 data are described as ''preliminary forecasts''. Surely Macau's economists aren't going to revise their 1992 forecasts more than 10 months after the year has ended? We would like to withdraw the previous joke about China specialists, who are Nobel prize candidates by comparison. On cloud nine THE stock exchange's annual report, issued yesterday, is certainly a change from the previous ones. It looks as if it has been designed by the same person who did the record cover for the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Great Wall of China, the Hongkong Bank Building, the exchange's trading floor and a load of other stuff float against a blue background. We think it should be entitled ''Stock Exchange in the Sky with Diamonds.'' Inside, interesting information. Three cheers for chairman Paul Chow, who cut his pay and expenses from $3,788,000 to $3,292,000, a fall of 13.1 per cent. Giving credit MIKE Murad, the quick-talking boss of the International Bank of Asia, never misses a chance to push up his customer numbers. While most executives hosting a media lunch may resort to handing out a minor gift such as a pen or diary, Mr Murad yesterday issued all attending his meet-the-press session with an application form for an IBA credit card. ''The credit card business is very competitive,'' Mr Murad pointed out. Dead broke VARIOUS legal brains are currently pondering the issue of whether Hong Kong bankrupts should automatically be discharged after three years. At present, there is no automatic discharge and people usually die bankrupt, which seems a bit harsh. In Australia they are taking things to the other extreme, as being bankrupt once or even twice seems to be considered a badge of courage. Russell Goward, former chief of an investment group which collapsed under an approaching debt of HK$500 million, took out big ads in Australian newspapers to announce he had only three months to go before he could make good his Arnold Schwarzenegger-style promise of ''I'll be back''. ''I'm leaner and hungrier and have more ideas than ever,'' said the ads. Eat your words THE ranks of those on the move who can keep in touch were swelled by one this week when Chris Devonshire-Ellis of Asia Law and Practice bought a Hutchison Tien Dey Seen portable phone. On the back was this sticker: ''Is this in response to users in the past getting so upset with their call charges they angrily chomp away at their handsets?'' he asks. We've noticed a trend towards mobile phones coming in colours other than black. Next logical step: offering mobile phones of different flavours.