E25: Time to review your bank

Many of us were shocked by the revelations of the Banking Royal Commission in 2018 that showed major banks were taking advantage of ordinary Australians. Billions were stolen from people when profits and shareholder returns were put before the law.

Widespread unethical practices were revealed that were known about at the highest levels of banks and financial institutions.

Choice Magazine which represented consumer interests at the Commission has been working on making sure the Commission’s recommendations aren’t watered down. Choice wants banking executives held to account, and to make sure there are serious repercussions and deterrents for unethical and illegal practices.

So where does this leave the customer who may have loyally stuck with the same bank for decades but feels aggrieved about the behaviour of banks? Patrick Verrey from Choice Magazine says it’s not as hard to change banks as you might think, and there are community and not for profit alternatives.

Patrick Verrey urges customers to compare rates and charges, and to make the change to a financial institution that better accords with your values. It may seem complicated, but banks are obliged to assist when you change institutions.

If you don’t want to use internet banking, what can you do? Bank staff should assist you. Choice is pushing to maintain bricks and mortar banks, which are fast disappearing from main streets.

Choice continues to push for law reform and says more action is required to protect consumers. For example a compensation scheme for people who have lost their hard earned savings through the actions of a financial institution.

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