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Less than half of customers say banks can be trusted

Wednesday 24th April 2019

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Consumers tend to be satisfied with their banks overall but less than half think banks can be trusted and almost two-thirds doubt they have their customers' best interests at heart.

Consumer NZ’s latest annual banking survey found that, overall, 60 percent of respondents were happy with the service they were getting from their bank, about the same result as in last year’s survey.

However, only 47 percent said they think banks can be trusted and only 35 percent said they think banks have their best interests at heart.

About 68 percent think bank profits show banks are charging too much and only 33 percent agreed that banks charge customers fairly and that competition keeps their charges competitive.

About 70 percent agree that banks need to be monitored more closely to protect consumers from irresponsible practices.

The survey found one in five have been offered products such as credit cards that they didn’t ask for and didn’t want. 

Credit cards, increases in credit card limits, life insurance and personal loans were the most common products promoted to customers.

Consumer NZ head of research, Jessica Wilson, says the majority of people who got these offers didn’t think the product was a good option or suited their needs. About 16 percent had felt pressured into buying a financial product they didn’t need.

“Seven out of 10 consumers who were offered a new credit card or an increase in their card limit didn’t think it was a good choice for them,” Wilson says.

The results - drawn from a nationally representative poll of 2,118 consumers - are similar to those in last year’s survey. A survey the Financial Markets Authority and Reserve Bank conducted last year found that 24 percent of customers had been offered products they didn’t want or need.

The FMA and RBNZ survey was part of the two regulators’ response to Australia’s royal commission into financial services.

Their joint inquiry into the conduct and culture of 11 New Zealand banks found significant weaknesses in the governance and management of conduct risks and a number of issues it ordered the banks to remediate.

However, they didn’t find the widespread misconduct or poor culture issues within New Zealand’s banks that were revealed by Australia’s royal commission, even though Australia’s big four banks own New Zealand’s big four banks.

In the Consumer NZ survey, Co-operative Bank ranked highest for overall satisfaction with an 87 percent rating, followed by TSB Bank with 83 percent. Co-operative is owned by its customers while TSB is owned by a community trust. SBS Bank, which is also owned by its customers, wasn’t included in the survey results.

Government-owned Kiwibank scored considerably lower at 66 percent and two of the big four, Bank of New Zealand, which is owned by National Australia Bank, at 63 percent and Westpac at 60 percent were about average.

ASB Bank, which is owned by Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and ANZ Bank both scored below average with 55 percent and 54 percent ratings respectively, and Consumer says they rated poorly for product advice, fees and value for money.


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