22nd May 2013 – State and Territory financial counselling associations from around Australia have today launched the first national “Rank the Banks” survey.
The survey asked financial counsellors – who provide information, support and advocacy to people experiencing financial difficulty – to rate how well each of the ‘big four’ banks, and some of the smaller banks, were assisting customers in financial hardship.
The headline ranking for each of the ‘big four’ used a scale of one to 10, where one was the lowest ranking and 10 the highest. The ranks were: NAB 6.2, ANZ 5.9, Westpac 5.0 and CBA 4.4.
The report showed there are clear differences between banks in how they assist Australians doing it tough. The same rank order was evident in all of the detailed questions: first and subsequent communication with financial counsellors, attitudes toward financial counsellors and clients, whether initial repayment arrangements were affordable and whether final outcomes were fair and reasonable.
“The way a bank responds to a customer in financial hardship can be the difference between financial recovery and financial oblivion” said Fiona Guthrie, Executive Director of Financial Counselling Australia.
“We acknowledge the significant efforts that the ‘big four’ in particular are putting into improving hardship response” said Ms Guthrie. “The survey shows however that there is still a way to go.”
“We are particularly concerned by the ratings for the smaller banks. These were consistently low, indicating these banks have yet to fully grasp what financial hardship means.”
Any one of us could find ourselves in financial difficulty, for example due to job loss, illness, relationship breakdown or similar business failure. “It is good business sense as well as the right thing to do, to help customers through tough times, “ said Fiona Guthrie.
Anyone who is in financial difficulty can contact a free and independent financial counsellor on 1800 007 007.
Media Contact: Danielle Archer, 0404 051 223