18-Mar-2019 • Corporate

Distrust by Australians toward banks is almost universal, according to a new report by lender ME.

The survey of 1,000 Australian adults conducted in February 2019 – just after the Financial Services Royal Commission delivered its final report – revealed:

  • 94% agree banks don’t act in their best interest - distrust
  • 95% agree banks sometimes put profits before customers
  • 89% agree banks don’t always consider their financial wellbeing
  • 95% agree bank products and rates aren’t as simple and transparent as they should be
  • 95% agree banks charge unfair fees
  • 92% agree banks sell products and services inappropriate to customers, or that they don’t need

ME CEO, Jamie McPhee, said ‘bank-xiety’ was an apt term to describe these findings.

“Australians have always had a level of ambivalence towards banks, but the level of distrust uncovered by this survey is extreme.

“And this is concerning given banks, and banking, are at the heart of our national and household economies. Banks facilitate our daily financial transactions, hold much of Australian’s hard-earned savings, and are often the main source of credit in times of need.

“These survey results will be feeding into Australian’s more general anxiety around their finances, which we know exists through ME’s biannual Household Financial Comfort Report.”

Jamie McPhee said the apathy in the face of this level of distrust was quite disturbing.

According to ME’s survey, only 14% of Australians are proactively doing something about their bank-xiety – admitting they have or are in the process of switching to a bank they trust, while 37% had not considered acting on their distrust and 48% said they’d thought about or started doing research but hadn’t pursued it further.

“Unfortunately many Australians have become accustomed to believing that all banks are the same and have stopped looking for other options.

“Consumers who are unhappy should be actively reviewing their banking relationships, while policy makers need to continue fostering greater competition so smaller, customer-focused banks can compete more fairly. Competition has always been a great antidote to not acting in the customer’s best interest.

ME has launched a campaign based on the findings, in attempt to prompt Australians to talk about their bank‑xiety and take action because not all banks are the same.

“Like many issues, bank-xiety sits just below the surface. By providing Australians with the language to describe what 94% of the adult population is experiencing, we want to empower them to rid themselves of this feeling for good,” said McPhee.

-ends-

Editor notes: ME surveyed 1,000 Australian adults with a bank account via survey provider Pureprofile in February 2019.