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Give the banks a break

OK, we all know that the big bad banks have been charging their customers for advice that hasn't been given - the Royal Commission is sorting that out. This article isn't about that, which for the record is very, very bad; I'd be annoyed too if I dropped my car off at the mechanic having paid for new brakes, only to drive away with the old ones. Highway robbery and professionally negligent - I get it.

This is actually about the fact that regardless of this, us Aussies are starting to sound like a whinging bunch of negative Nancys who expect to pay nothing at all for the services our banks actually do provide. Surely we can appreciate the fact that nothing in life is free. We need to pull our heads in.

At the end of the day, the big banks with whom the majority of us CHOOSE to associate our hard-earned money with, are businesses. They are not Government-owned. They are there to provide a service and we need to accept the fact that there are costs for that service.

And while the banks do make significant profits and their chief financial officers and chief executives pocket a disgustingly inflated salary when they're not out there saving lives or teaching our future generations, let's take a second to consider why we actually need our banks to be in the green.

A large portion of Australians own shares in banks either through super funds or otherwise, which when in a profitable position, play an undervalued and underappreciated role in the long-term financial growth and stability of these investments and overall economy.

So without further adieu, here's a few things we should be thankful to our banks for.


24/7 customer support

You lose your wallet. Your credit card gets stolen. A fraudulent charge is made on your card. Guess what? Your bank is available at any time of the day, wherever you are in the world, to help you solve the issue. In times of crisis, your bank is easily accessible to you, in your corner, on your team, figuring out the best way to alleviate your panic and stress in that moment. Better still, CommBank's online banking app allows you to lock a card temporarily if lost or stolen, no call even needed. I don't know about you, but these are services I'm willing to pay fees for.

Amazing technology

The amount of money that has gone into developing incredibly effective, efficient and user-friendly mobile technology over the past few years may thanks to some of our fees, but it's sure as hell making our lives easier! I know I'd rather use a well-developed online banking app to change my address, add a new payee, pay in invoice immediately, lock a card temporarily or tend to all of my other banking needs, than stand in line at a branch on my lunch break or listen to the same song on repeat in a phone queue.

You don't want to pay your fees? No apps for you!

The ability to grow our businesses and lives

While many of our parents may have been able to buy their first home 40 years ago with the equivalent of their yearly salary of $48k, we most certainly can't. Similarly, starting or growing our own businesses usually requires money we often can't cough up ourselves. So who do we call? The banks! As a result of all of us keeping our money safely stored within the banks and paying fees for the ability to do this, we in turn have the ability to access larger amounts of money that enable us to grow our wealth and lives into more than they are. Again, I'm willing to pay for this ability.

While I suspect this may be a touchy subject for many, there comes a point where we need to take ownership for our own decisions around the businesses we choose to associate with (banks included). Unfortunately, many of us seem to be passive information seekers and get swept up in the angry and whiny click-bait headlines that relentlessly beat our banks to a pulp.

Instead, we all need to take a deep breath and take a moment to actually appreciate the dependability, accessibility, safety and technologically advanced services provided by our Australian banks that are ultimately helping us live the lives we want to live.

4 comments so far

Congratulations for having your say. Regulation has been with us on a grand scale for years - the Regulators have approved all Platforms/PDS from their inception; including take overs since the GFC. The findings stated in the BRC has highlighted and exposed significant breeches on ALL levels. You are correct; these are being addressed and will take time. I agree with your approach to get back to business and everyday we appreciate the security and certainty many many employees benefit from the Banks being able to operate day to day. It is always about "Choice" to sit up and decide who you wish to do business with and on what terms. That takes time, commitment and dare I suggest a "fee" for advice or no advice. My 30 years experience would suggest that most people have usually adopted the "sit and forget" approach and then make the noise when things are highlighted by someone else. Not condoning any of the questionable activity and breeches performed by the banks; however should there be a "perfect world" in the financial services industry; you could tell me where to find it. Thanks for the article - a great perspective.


KERRY MITCHELL  |  2 OCT 2018   9.17AM
  Thank you for the article, Brodie.
I think as an industry should be careful about falling into the traps of the media and just pandering to this notion of community expectations (community expectations are important, but so are the facts or otherwise that bring about those expectations). In the main, the Royal commission hearings were not about charging for advice not provided; in the main the charge was about service not provided. The provision of personal financial advice after FOFA is distinctly different to that before. Many of these fees for service came about pre-FOFA and being discussed now as though those fees should have been for the provision of personal financial advice, which is fundamentally incorrect. Service is not necessarily advice.
To one of the bank positives; amazing technology. This is true. Unfortunately, this technology serves the bank's purpose as much as (and probably more so than) the customer's. Take the tracking of ongoing expenditure for example; wouldn't it be fantastic if all of that data could be downloaded and reported in such a way that would help preparation of the customer's income tax return? Instead, separate systems and records need to be maintained.
SIMON TOMKINSON  |  2 OCT 2018   9.17AM
  I have no issue paying for service, the trouble with the two big banks I deal with is there is no service. Recently my ANZ bank increased their monthly account fee by 20% , when I asked what extra service was provided for this increase the person I spoke to could not tell me of any changes that required a 20% increase in fees! Let's be honest banks do price gouge.
IAN BAILEY  |  2 OCT 2018   9.44AM
  Excellent article which provides some good perspective on personal financial responsibility.
AUSTIN WHITING  |  2 OCT 2018   10.46AM
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