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29.4.08

ANZ loses the plot: everyday Kiwis targeted to boost profits 

I closed the last Jack Yan & Associates account at the today. If you’ve followed my Vox blog, you’ll know that I am now a happy client of the Taranaki Savings Bank. The last straw was when ANZ insisted on charging $5 per foreign cheque deposit, effective March 1.
   My attitude is this: a deposit is a customer loan to the . Unless I can start charging the bank for making a loan to me (call it the ‘Loaning to Jack Privilege Charge’), then they cannot charge me for loaning to them.
   Not that Sir Johnny Anderson and his fellow directors really understand from the regular Joe’s viewpoint. I think they have been fat cats for too long that they don’t remember. I remember leaving the National Bank when Sir Spencer Russell retired, Sir John took over, and almost instantly put in some ridiculous bank charges.
   Fact: banks are already making enough money on .
   By changing to I already save over $200 per annum on base charges alone. And my foreign currency accounts now are interest-bearing.
   The bank officer who closed my account maintains that it costs the bank money to retrieve foreign funds and the charges must be passed on to the customer.
   I said, ‘Cobblers.’
   There was even a direct debit for a bank set up since 1995 (!), not that I would be so dumb as to get a credit card from a bank.
   I am happy for to make money the way they always did: on reinvesting, on gaining interest on the days they cheat us by saying that the cheques have not cleared (it takes 24 hours in New Zealand, according to when I studied banking law, and I doubt the process has slowed since then), and on actual commercial transactions such as opening letters of credit and telegraphic transfers.
   But for everyday transactions, I don’t buy that there are suddenly these huge charges at banks. Neither should you. Because it is a lie.
   I can accept that this is how cons its staff, especially the bank-fee-hungry people like Sir John (who, I understand, is actually a very nice man on a personal level).
   We are not idiots. We know that banks have sacked staff left, right and centre, trimming operations. We know entire branches have disappeared, replaced by Starbucks cafés. We know that banks have computerized and automated more of their operations, including ATMs that take the personalization out of the . We know that most banks have removed direct-dial access to employees and even whole branches, centralizing telephone operations to . We know that they have done this across the board, globally.
   So their costs have come down, big time, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
   As these customer charges go up, of course their profits improve. They need to rob from us.
   That daylight robbery, which we legally contract them to do, has netted banks $3·23 billion in profits in 2007. Eighty-nine per cent of that is accounted for by Australian-owned operations: ANZ National, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (which owns ASB, the Auckland Savings Bank) and National Australia Bank (owners of BNZ).
   That’s just over 10 per cent up on 2006’s figure, which was itself 11 per cent up on 2005’s.
   And our economy isn’t exactly booming to fuel these, so where are the profits coming from?
   That’s right: ordinary people like you and me.
   I urge New Zealanders to re-examine their banking. Do 89 per cent of you really want all these profits and bank fees to go to a bunch of Australians anyway?
   Even at the Bank of , that is where they are going.
   We only have a select few domestically owned choices left, such as TSB, Kiwibank and some building and investment societies, that will keep the money onshore and invest prudently—as banks are supposed to do.
   They know they are answerable to us in the same country and they don’t put in ridiculous charges.
   That’s not the case for a bunch of foreigners who don’t, in my book, deserve our charity, who seem to go all too regularly, ‘Oops, you are right. We weren’t meant to charge you that. Let me reverse it.’
   I hear that story all too often, from over four parties now. Call me a conspiracy theorist but I think it’s bank policy to make “accidental” charges. Therefore, I’m happy to trust my money to a bunch of folks from the Taranaki—who know I can easily fly to the chairman’s house if the bank pisses me off. Yes, I take banking way too seriously, but I earned those dollars, and I need to be able to look the bloke in the eye if I ever need to.
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Comments:
Thanks for sharing your experiences of the NZ banks. I spent some time visiting banks here last week, trying to figure out where we should place our business for the new venture.

The Aussie owned banks were all offering pretty much the same poor deal, although ASB did at least have a high interest business saver account.

Because we are a start-up, none of the banks were prepared to discuss anything other than "telegraphic transfer" as a means of accessing payments from offshore (although we know there are better methods).

I can also say that at both the BNZ branches I visited, the service was incredibly slow and the young staff were very poorly informed about their own products. Appalling.

TSB is looking more attractive by the minute. Especially as I was Taranaki born and bred.  
Paul, the disadvantage with TSB is that with the exception of special circumstances, they will not do commercial accounts. But the Australian banks, I agree, do not differentiate (and remember, these days BNZ is an Australian bank), with the exception of the Auckland Savings Bank. If TSB will open one for your venture, go for it, though I suspect you may need to present it as a sole-trader operation initially.  
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.


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