Archive for the 'Better Banks' Category

Try Aussie banking reforms here, says Finsec

Finsec said this week that Australian banking reforms should be extended across the ditch. The Australian chances include giving customers one-page documents outlining how to compare mortgages and investigating account number portability. The objectives of the changes are to make it easier to change banks, and increase competition.

Finsec General Secretary Andrew Casidy told Business Day the government here should follow suit, and that our union had advocated for a public body to be established to provide objective advice to customers.

“Whether we realise it or not the relationship between customers and banks is one of the most expensive transactions in our lives, but it’s actually very hard to get good comparative information,” said Andrew Casidy.


“Establish future banking environment” union tells bank inquiry

Finsec’s sister union, the Finance Sector Union of Australia, told a Senate Inquiry this week that greater competition will not fix every problem in the banking industry.

“Banking is integrated into our ability as citizens to function in modern society, and it is impossible for Australians to opt out of the banking system. It is up to Government to ensure the system operates fairly and equitably for all Australians,” said FSU National Secretary Leon Carter.

Carter said that there was a real thirst for change amongst consumers and bank staff. “While key aspects of the type of changes sought have been picked up by Government – exit fees, switching, responsible lending initiatives such as credit card reform and better product information – the behaviour and culture of our big banks need to be reined in by a regulatory regime.”

New alliance formed to fight for integrity in finance

Finsec’s sister union, the Finance Sector Union of Australia, has today been part of the launch of a new watchdog for the financial system. The Australian Financial Integrity Network (AusFIN) is a broad network of organisations to promote, educate and advocate for changes it wants the Australian Government to adopt as part of its banking reforms.

Among its members are superannuation lobbyist Industry Super Network, consumer group Choice and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. AusFIn says it wants a financial system that functions in “an accessible, affordable and fair manner reflecting its status as an essential service.”

The network says that retail banks and superannuation providers should only levy fees and charges reflecting their actual costs.

Bank profits soar while economy crawls

With a massive resurgence in profits that significantly outperforms growth in the rest of the economy it is time for the Australian banks to sign up to a Better Banking Charter, Finsec said today. The big four Australian owned banks posted profits of nearly $2 billion in the last financial year.

Both Finsec and its sister union the Finance Sector Union of Australia are calling on the banks to sign up to our Better Banking Charter to increase accountability for the sector.

“In Australia these banks are facing customer and community outrage over interest rate and fee gouging and massive CEO bonuses. It is time to set some fair rules to ensure that we don’t see more of these tricks in New Zealand,” said Finsec Campaigns Director Andrew Campbell.

“The charter sets out what the average Kiwi would consider fair. That banks don’t increase interest rates more than they have to and that jobs are not sent overseas or cut while profits rise,” said Campbell.

Fancy having a meeting with your CEO to tell them off?

Normally bank workers and customers are called into meetings with the bank to get a telling off or to get their accounts into shape, but this week the tables are being turned on JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon. Bank staff are running an online campaign where ordinary customers can request a meeting with the CEO to discuss the damage he and the bank are doing in the United States. And the facts speak for themselves: • In 2009 the bank charged its customers $7 billion in fees, more than 60% of their total profit.

JPMorgan Chase is directly responsible for at least 22,852 layoffs since the American recession began. As of July, JPMorgan Chase held over 215,000 mortgages headed for foreclosure. As Service Employees International Union spokesperson Mike Garcia says, “Here in my home state of California, Chase’s stranglehold on the economy is everywhere. They’ve kicked California families out of their homes. They’ve laid off workers when times are already tough. They’ve sucked millions of our tax dollars out of our communities that so desperately need it. And it’s a similar story across the USA.” Maybe its time to start requesting meetings here to talk about sales targets, understaffing, offshoring, pay……….

Credit reform & Better Banking issues as Aussies head to the polls

With Australians heading to the polls tomorrow, Finsec’s sister union the FSU has described Labor’s credit reforms policy as a step in the right direction. If elected, Labor plans to stop banks and credit providers from automatically increasing credit limits and put the power to nominate credit limits back in the hands of customers.

The FSU welcomed the proposals but said they would not relieve the enormous pressure on finance workers to sell credit products.

“Customers know that every time they walk into a bank they are bombarded with offers of more products. Not because the customer needs more credit. But because the bank penalises the bank worker if they don’t meet their sales targets,” said National Secretary Leon Carter.

“The Labour Government has listened to the community and sought to increase regulation in certain areas but we believe it is also critical to address the links between bank and finance workers’ remuneration and sales targets on credit products.”

Finsec’s sister union calls on politicians to protect Aussie jobs

The Australian Finance Sector Union has called on all political parties on the other side of the ditch to guarantee to workers that their jobs are not at risk of offshoring, in the lead up to the Australian general election, which will be held at the end of the month.

FSU General Secretary Leon Carter said that “finance sector workers and the community have said loud and clear that offshoring is unacceptable. When banks send jobs overseas they are putting profits over people and local communities.”

“This election all candidates and political parties have a chance to put their hand up for Australian workers and a strong finance sector through supporting our Better Banking charter.”

Finsec and the FSU have been working together on the common issues on both sides of the Tasman this year as part of our Better Banks campaign. Go to to see the latest.

Missed opportunity to net the loan sharks

New Zealand missed a good opportunity to net the worst loan sharks this week, when National and ACT voted down Labour MP Carol Beaumont’s bill to cap the interest rates of loan sharks who exploit borrowers.
Carol Beaumont’s bill, supported by Finsec, was voted down 63 votes to 59 after a ferocious debate.
Carol Beaumont says the issue is so important that she is going to work with community groups and keep campaigning on it, and is also looking a the option of a select committee inquiry. Finsec will continue to support any moves to net the exploitative loan sharks!

Bank workers worried about customer debt levels

The results from our Trans-Tasman bank workers survey show staff are uncomfortable about their customers’ ability to meet the financial obligations of the products they are made to sell them. Sixty-three percent reported their targets went up annually, and 77 percent said their employer did not reduce their targets when economic conditions were more difficult.
Finsec Campaigns Director Andrew Campbell told NZPA that there was a very practised and systematic approach to the selling of products which left no stone unturned.
“I’ve had a bank worker say to me that they were closing the accounts for someone who was deceased for the family, and the manager said to them afterwards ‘why did you not try to sell them life insurance? It’s a perfect time, a recent death in the family, to emphasise that product’.”
“We’re not saying ‘we want targets gone tomorrow’, we understand that will probably have to be systematic, but we think there can be a much fairer system that is not about pushing debt on to customers and stressing out staff in the process.”
Other survey results highlighted issues of understaffing in the industry. 63% of respondents think their worksite doesn’t have enough staff and 43% think customer service has got worse.

Aussie banks gouging billions on interest rates

New evidence has emerged that Australian banks are using the financial crisis as cover for charging borrowers more than their cost increases.

The Sydney Morning Herald analysed Australian Reserve Bank figures to find out how much borrowers are contributing towards bank profits – and revealed that someone with a three-year fixed rate home loan of A$300,000 pays a personal contribution to growing bank profits of between A$75 and $125. Overall, the increase in costs to banks was more than offset by interest rate increases.

Consumer advocacy spokesperson from Choice, Christopher Zinn said “It’s well documented that the large banks profited in various ways from the financial downturn, including taking market share from smaller competitors, and increasing their lending profit margins.”

This analysis is consistent with the multi-party banking inquiry held in New Zealand which concluded that the benefit of official cash rate reductions had not been fully passed on to customers.

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