These bank­ing boots are made for walk­ing

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Racing - PER­SONAL FI­NANCE WRITER SO­PHIE ELSWORTH

WILL any­one switch banks, su­per funds, in­sur­ers, mort­gage bro­kers or fi­nan­cial ad­vis­ers af­ter learn­ing many of them have ripped us off ?

What will it take for cus­tomers to get off their rear ends and jump ship, sig­nalling they’ve had a gut­ful?

The rec­om­men­da­tions in Com­mis­sioner Ken­neth Hayne’s fi­nal re­port – af­ter 68 days of hear­ings, 134 wit­nesses and 10,000 pub­lic sub­mis­sions – called out the dis­grace­ful an­tics, rob­bery and sheer greed of many of those we trusted to han­dle our money.

Don’t think this thiev­ery is about to stop. It will con­tinue to hap­pen, de­spite the grilling and head-rolling that has oc­curred over the past year.

Af­ter ask­ing many of my friends and col­leagues if any of them will bother to switch providers in protest – even if they didn’t get di­rectly dud­ded – the an­swer is a firm “No. I can’t be both­ered”.

And this here is the very heart of the prob­lem.

We sim­ply do not vote with our feet.

Aus­tralians are typ­i­cally a lazy bunch when it comes to fi­nance.

The coun­try is dom­i­nated by the big four banks.

More than 80 per cent of owner-oc­cu­pier loans are with them and they also have about 85 per cent of in­vestor loans.

The tales of rip­ping off in­no­cent, hard­work­ing Aus­tralians were tear-jerk­ing, to say the least.

One of the worst was hear­ing a 26-year-old man with Down syn­drome try to re­move him­self from a sub­stan­dard Free­dom In­sur­ance pol­icy he’d been conned into get­ting.

The young man re­ceived pocket money from his par­ents to try to help him have some in­de­pen­dence and these greedy cow­boys robbed him of his cash.

It took his fa­ther to get in­volved and months of hard work to get him out of the pol­icy.

How could these banks charge cus­tomers fees and give ab­so­lutely noth­ing in re­turn? Sheer rob­bery.

I’m pleased to say I don’t bank with the big four.

I have in the past but I’m happy to switch banks at any time if I feel they are dud­ding me.

Sadly, many oth­ers can­not be both­ered and don’t know enough about their fi­nan­cial prod­ucts to work out if they are get­ting ripped off.

If the hor­ror sto­ries of the past year don’t prompt cus­tomers to take ac­tion, in my view, noth­ing will.

No mat­ter what rec­om­men­da­tions of Mr Hayne’s are leg­is­lated – and it looks likely to be all 76 of them – cus­tomers will con­tinue to get dud­ded.

Those in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices in­dus­try are not go­ing to be­come crys­tal clean all of a sud­den.

So it’s up to con­sumers to take con­trol. Phone your bank, bro­ker, fi­nan­cial ad­viser or in­surer and don’t be afraid to ask the tough ques­tions.

Find out what fees and charges you are pay­ing, at the very least.

Hunt around, go

on­line and see if you can get a bet­ter deal else­where. These fat-cat banks will never care as much about your hard­earned cash as you will. It’s up to you to take con­trol, not them. @so­phie elsworth

One of the worst was hear­ing a 26-year-old man with Down syn­drome try to re­move him­self from a sub­stan­dard Free­dom In­sur­ance pol­icy he’d been conned into get­ting

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