Top 10 Reasons Why Australian's Have Lost Faith in the Big 4 Banks

Nov 21, 2023
3 min read

Australia’s "Big Four" banks – Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), Westpac Banking Corporation (WBC), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), and National Australia Bank (NAB) – have played an indispensable role in the economic framework of the country. These institutions, dominant in the banking sector, have a vast customer base and hold a significant portion of the nation's wealth. However, in recent years, public sentiment has shifted, and trust in these institutions has eroded. Here are the top 10 reasons why:

1. The Banking Royal Commission Findings (2018)

Undoubtedly, one of the most significant blows to the reputation of the Big Four was the findings of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. The investigation unearthed numerous instances of unethical behavior, ranging from charging fees for no service to lending malpractices.

2. Fee Scandals

One of the most contentious issues highlighted was the practice of charging fees to deceased clients and to those not receiving any services. Such practices not only betray a lack of ethical considerations but also raise questions about the institutions' operational integrity.

3. Unfair Loan Practices

The Royal Commission highlighted how some banks were lax in their lending practices. This included offering larger loans than what customers could reasonably repay, leading to potential financial hardships for many individuals.

4. Inadequate Customer Redress Systems

Over the years, there have been instances where customers felt that banks failed to address their complaints adequately or in a timely manner. Such experiences can leave clients feeling disregarded and undervalued.

5. Conflicts of Interest

The blending of roles between financial advisors and bank employees, where advisors were sometimes incentivized to push bank products, created potential conflicts of interest, undermining the trust clients had in getting unbiased financial advice.

6. Data Breaches and Security Concerns

Like many institutions worldwide, Australian banks have faced their share of cybersecurity threats. Any incident, no matter how minor, can sow seeds of doubt in customers' minds about the security of their personal and financial information.

7. Higher Fees and Interest Rates

Compared to smaller banks or non- traditional lending institutions, the Big Four often have higher fees and interest rates. This has made many question whether they're genuinely getting the best deal for their financial needs.

8. Perceived Corporate Greed

With the top banks raking in substantial profits year after year, some members of the public view them as symbols of corporate greed, especially when juxtaposed against issues like wage stagnation and rising living costs.

9. Limited Innovation

In a rapidly evolving digital age, some critics argue that the Big Four have been slower to innovate compared to fintech startups, which offer modern, user-friendly banking solutions.

10. Lack of Personalised Service

As massive institutions, the top Australian banks sometimes come across as impersonal, making customers feel like just another number. Smaller banks or credit unions often pride themselves on offering a more personalized touch.

In conclusion, while the Big Four Australian banks have been instrumental in shaping the country's economic landscape, they're not immune to criticism and skepticism.

Trust, once lost, is hard to regain. It will be crucial for these banks to learn from their missteps, adapt, and prioritize customer needs to rebuild and maintain the public’s trust in the future.

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