The number of Aussies who are happy with the services provided by their bank has reached record levels. According to a new survey by Roy Morgan Research, 80 per cent of people felt they were getting the most from their bank accounts in October. This is the best result since the firm started the satisfaction poll back in 1996 and is a clear indication that lenders are going the extra mile to please their customers. Each of the nation's "big four" banks improved their rating during the month, with Westpac and ANZ seeing a 1.1 per cent rise in their score. Meanwhile, an extra 0.6 per cent of Commonwealth Bank customers said they were content with the provider's financial services and National Australia Bank (NAB) saw an increase of 0.1 per cent. This was enough to keep NAB at the top of the pile as far as the big four are concerned, but the rest are now catching up. It has been a good month for Australian companies so far, as the International Monetary Fund revealed last week that the nation's banking sector is in decent shape. Overall, 78 per cent of customers who hold accounts with the country's major banks said they were content. Although this is impressive, the big four still have plenty of ground to make up on smaller, less established lenders. Indeed, credit unions posted a satisfaction score of 89.4 per cent during the month, while building societies were even more popular with a rating of 90.1 per cent. However, mutual banks were still out in front, with a remarkable 91.4 per cent of customers declaring their happiness with the services provided by such organisations. Industry communications director at Roy Morgan Research Norman Morris believes there are a number of factors behind the record-breaking results. "There is now much greater flexibility in channel selection, with internet banking being used by more people than visit branches and as a result customers can do their banking when and where they want to," he commented. "Another contributing factor to improvements in satisfaction over this period has been the increased focus on customer service by all banks and the competition that this has generated." Have a question about bank accounts? Ask the money gurus at Mozo Answers.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) believes Australia's banking sector is "sturdy" and continues to outperform many other countries. Australia is now one of very few nations that has held on to its AAA rating and the IMF suggested the government's timely response to the global financial crisis has stood the country in good stead. However, it also noted that better stress testing may be needed so experts can identify and monitor risks to the banking system.
Competition in the Australian banking sector is intense and companies are offering more incentives to attract new customers. According to Bankwest retail chief executive Vittoria Shortt, the firm is now linking rewards programmes to standard transaction accounts – something that has become common in other countries but has not yet been seen down under. She told National Features that customers are rewarded for both spending and saving, although people need to make a minimum deposit of $2,000 into their bank accounts each month. "There are a lot of customers who like rewards points and they've never been available on transaction accounts. We saw there was a gap," Ms Shortt was quoted as saying. Banks constantly have to evolve in order to retain their customers and Westpac chiefs revealed last week the demand for mobile banking services is soaring. It is safe to predict lenders that fail to offer the latest banking technology – as well as rewards schemes – will quickly fall behind their rivals. Have a question about bank accounts? Ask the money gurus at Mozo Answers.
The rapid emergence of smartphones and tablets has led to a sharp increase in the number of people accessing their bank accounts on the move. According to Westpac representatives, 3.4 million people have embraced online banking services, with half of this number using their handsets to complete financial transactions. A number of recent studies have suggested that Aussies are very quick to utilise new technology and many now see the use of mobile banking applications as the norm. Westpac retail and business banking group executive Jason Yetton believes mobile will overtake online banking by 2018. "We estimate that the number of payments made across our digital platforms over the next five years will top one billion transactions, with total value in excess of six trillion dollars," he remarked. Mr Yetton also indicated that social media is playing an increasingly important role in the financial sector, as sites such as Twitter and Facebook allow banks to interact with customers far more freely.
The rising cost of living has forced many Aussies to take extra care over their spending in recent years, but that frugality generally goes out of the window on Melbourne Cup day. A study conducted by Roy Morgan Research has indicated that 6.33 million people from across the country will watch Australia's showpiece horse race on November 6th, with 41 per cent of this number likely to place a bet. With online gambling growing in popularity, a lot of Aussies will allow their bank accounts to take a hit for one day in the hope that they will back a winner. The research showed that more than one in three punters know how much they can afford to spend on gambling, while 11 per cent usually place a bet on the spur of the moment. Roy Morgan's general manager of media and communications George Pesutto said that while most people see gambling as a good way to improve their finances, others simply have a flutter for the sheer thrill of it, especially on Melbourne Cup day. Last year, the meeting generated an incredible $746.1 million towards the Australian economy. Have a question about bank accounts? Ask the money gurus at Mozo Answers.
Aussies will soon reap the benefits of a new wave of sophisticated ATMs being rolled out by Commonwealth Bank (CBA). The organisation has already upgraded 1,260 of its cash dispensers across the country and there are plans to refresh 3,500 in total. Some of the cashpoints will allow people to deposit money or cheques 24 hours a day and the funds will appear in their bank accounts in real time. This will make it far easier for Aussies to stay in control of their finances, as they will have up to date information on the state of their account balance. A number of recent studies have shown that cutting-edge banking technology is really catching on down under and people are keen to see new initiatives such as fingerprint scanning replacing PIN codes. Therefore, it is fair to predict that CBA's new ATMs will be a hit. "We're also introducing a range of features, to ensure that our customers can have a more personalised ATM experience," commented the firm's executive general manager of retail products and customers Michael Cant. Have a question about bank accounts? Ask the money gurus at Mozo Answers.
It may seem like a good idea at the time, but all too often couples who set up joint bank accounts end up regretting the decision. Figures recently compiled by Roy Morgan Research showed that more people are establishing a combined account across Australia, with 22 per cent of survey respondents not having access to any other finances at all. A further 19 per cent said they keep their own personal account open while also pouring funds into a shared pot, National Features reports. However, some relationships inevitably fall on rocky times and this causes all sorts of problems when attempting to keep a firm grip on your finances. Executive director at ING Direct – which recently won a number of accolades at the Mozo People's Choice Awards – Brett Morgan believes people need to put more thought into the consequences of opening a joint account before they take the plunge. "One in five people don't want joint accounts because they are worried how their partner is going to use the money, or they can't control their spending," he was quoted as saying.
ATM machines remain the most popular channel of banking in Australia, although the growth of the internet is starting to change things. A new study conducted by Roy Morgan Research has found that 77.1 per cent of the population still like to access their bank accounts via a hole in the wall machine. However, the organisation also found that online banking is now being used more frequently, with 47.5 per cent of the nation using the web to make payments and check their statements. What was most striking about the research was the fact that just 45.6 per cent of people now visit their branch in person – an indisputable sign that banking is evolving. Phone banking – which was very popular around ten years ago – is now only used by 17.8 per cent of the country and is in a noticeable decline. Chief executive officer at Roy Morgan Research Michele Levine said online banking has been growing for the past 14 years at the expense of branch visits. "Just one of the implications of this change for banks and their customers is that the lack of personal interaction may possibly lead to a weakening of the traditional relationships and loyalty, resulting in reduced barriers to mobility," she remarked. Ms Levine added that the huge demand for smartphones is also shaping the way people manage their finances. She suggested that with smartphone penetration standing at 46 per cent, apps and mobile internet services are being developed to enable Aussies to access their accounts on the move. It seems that – as a nation – we are certainly keen to embrace new technological advancements. A study conducted earlier this week by ANZ found that 88 per cent of 18-34-year-olds now prefer to access their money digitally. The research also indicated that 79 per cent of the population would be happy to see PIN numbers replaced by fingerprint recognition systems and a further 67 per cent felt that the introduction of retina scanners would also be a good thing. Have a question about bank accounts? Ask the money gurus at Mozo Answers.
Australia's major banks have improved their customer satisfaction ratings over the past year – but this has not been enough to stop people from switching to different providers. According to the results of Mozo's People's Choice Awards, one in five Aussies who hold bank accounts with one of the nation's most prominent lenders are looking for a change. Many customers had become disillusioned with the country's big banks and there were a number of reasons for this. Some people felt that their bank was failing to pass on interest rate reductions sanctioned by the Reserve Bank of Australia, even though most institutions were posting bumper profits. A lot of business banking customers were also concerned about a perceived lack of support from their lender. However, the new survey – which covered 25,000 customer reviews on the Mozo site in the past 12 months – has indicated that the banks are steadily turning things around. Indeed, the "big four" banks recorded an overall satisfaction score of 7.13 out of ten – a 0.26 per cent improvement on 2011. Commonwealth Bank had come in for a lot of criticism last year, but it has since recovered and is now Australia's second most popular institution, with a rating of 7.18. That said, the big four are still lagging way behind mutuals in the customer satisfaction stakes. Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank was voted Australia's Best Bank with an impressive score of 9.01. Overall, mutuals posted a record-high score of 8.37. Just ten per cent of the mutual bank customers surveyed said they were looking to switch to a new provider. Mozo managing director Rohan Gamble believes that interest rates are "make-or-break" for customer satisfaction. "Now the market overall is more competitive and responding to price pressure from the online players, customers are sending a message to the online banks that they need to up their game again," he remarked. Thanks to the government's "tick and flick" legislation – which makes it easier for people to switch bank accounts – the power is now firmly in Aussies' hands and it will be interesting to see how many households change their financial services provider in the near future. Have a question about bank accounts? Ask the money gurus at Mozo Answers.
South Australia premier Jay Weatherill has urged power companies to ease the strain on their customers' finances. The Essential Services Commission of South Australia has called for a $160-a-year cut on the energy bills of one-quarter of the state's households and businesses from next year, the Australian Associated Press reports. This would be a godsend for many struggling Aussies who are finding it hard to keep their bank accounts in the black. However, there are concerns that some suppliers may not pass the savings on to their customers and Mr Weatherill has urged them to do the right thing. "It's something they can do; it's something they should do and it's something that I demand of them," he was quoted as saying. Power prices are a major drain on people's finances and it seems that plenty of Aussies are taking matters into their own hands by installing solar panels. The Australian Bureau of Statistics recently suggested that more than 600,000 households had embraced solar energy by the end of 2011 – up from just 118 in 2001. Have a question about bank accounts? Ask the money gurus at Mozo Answers.