Archive for the 'Better Banks' Category

Westpac claims being developed online

Finsec members at Westpac are using a new mechanism to develop claims this year – an online survey on  Bargaining  is about our claims and not just what the bank wants.

Members have been sent a poster including tear off slips with the URL for the survey if you need to complete it at home. Many staff should be able to access the survey and complete it at work, however.

Christine McKie from Phone Assist at the Canterbury Centre printed off two copies of the poster today, and put one on the noticeboard as well as distributing the slips. “I’ve also emailed my team members asking them to support us and take part. Westpac and union members both benefit if we’re happy at work, so now’s our chance to have a say on what changes we want. Don’t be shy!” said Christine.


Customers dissatisfied with banks, says survey

The first results from Finsec and the FSU’s survey show high levels of customer dissatisfaction with the Australian owned banks, and highlight the need for the government to step in to make banking in New Zealand fairer.

The public polling shows a high level of support for a charter of Better Banking being proposed by the two unions.

“It is time for the banking industry to change. More customers are dissatisfied than satisfied with their banks. Customers say they want better staffing levels and an end to the target based pay systems that reward bank staff for selling debt products,” said Finsec Campaigns Director Andrew Campbell.

Key survey results:
86% want banks to stop off-shoring New Zealand jobs

42% thought their bank was getting worse at showing a commitment to employing New Zealanders

78% think there should be changes to how bank staff are paid and that sales targets should be de-linked from remuneration

For a summary of the results on the Trans-Tasman better banking campaign go to

Media interest in survey results

Finsec’s survey of bank customers has generated significant media interest, and stimulated debate on banks’ behaviour and the need for greater regulation. Check out the links below and have a look for yourself. Keep an eye out for the results of the bank staff survey, which will be released soon.

Bank fees target of legal threat

Bank penalty fees are the cause of legal action being taken on both sides of the Tasman. In addition to a $5billion class action suit started this week in Australia, two Christchurch law firms are planning a similar suit. Gary Wakefield from one of the firms, Wakefield Associates, told the Dominion Post that Kiwi banks had gouged customers the same way as the Aussie parent companies, with penalty fees estimated at $100 million a year in New Zealand alone.

The New Zealand case is being bankrolled by wealthy investors in return for a proportion of any compensation awarded.  Interest in the Australian case is very high, with the class action funder receiving 1000 calls an hour yesterday to their hotline.

National should shoot loan sharks out of the water

Finsec has written to John Key asking him to shoot loan sharks out the water by supporting the Credit Reform (Responsible Lending) Bill.  General Secretary Andrew Casidy said that the National Government was developing a negative record of siding with banks and financial institutions rather than with customers. “There’s a growing list – not improving consumer protections, failing to re-regulate the banking sector, a limited response to finance sector failures, and not participating in the banking inquiry.”

“National can redeem themselves a little by supporting Carol Beaumont’s bill to limit the interest rates that our worst loan sharks charge,” said Casidy. “After all, these companies prey on very low income earners who can least afford the huge interest rates they charge.”

“John Key has criticised credit card interest rates of 22% – yet some of the providers who would be covered by this bill are charging rates of 180% and I recently heard of one case where it was 780% a year.  This type of exploitation has to stop.”

“New Zealand is also out of step with the rest of the world – interest rate restrictions apply in Japan, and many countries in Europe, Africa and South America. Caps are either being implemented or proposed in most of Australia, and in Canada, the USA and UK.”

For more information go to or join the Facebook group here

Laughing all the way to the bank?

It’s profit announcement season, with two more this week – Westpac reported a jump in profit of 32%, while the New Zealand operations made $125 million in the period (down from $202 million last year, but four times the figure for the previous six months). BNZ reported a $255 million profit for the half year to March, down 8.6 percent on the same time last year.

ANZ’s profit announcement last week (a 36 percent increase in the group) drew negative media in Australia, especially after CEO Mike Smith’s comment that customers had rarely had it so good.

Consumer advocate spokesperson Christopher Zinn from Choice said “We would say that the banks have never had it so good.”

Banks’ own behaviours led to lower profits

Accounting firm KPMG released their annual report card of the banking industry this week and it highlighted that New Zealand banks were not immune from the sorts of bad behaviours indulged in by banks overseas that led to the global financial crisis.
“The drop in profit was mainly due to paying back the government for tax avoidance and having to make big provisions for bad debt as a result of questionable lending,” said Finsec Campaigns Director Andrew Campbell. “These negative behaviours are on the same continuum as those displayed by the Wall Street banks that triggered the global financial crisis.”
“All the banks have fairly “full on” sales cultures so it is not surprising that a lot of that lending has gone pear shaped and the banks have had to make big provisions for bad debt,” said Campbell.
“We think New Zealand banks need to be part of a new global set of rules for banking that increases accountability and reduces the risky business that has characterised banking for far too long,” said Campbell.

A target for the weekend

Finsec President Kelvin Pycroft is urging Finsec members to take a couple of minutes out of their weekend to fill out our Trans-Tasman campaign survey at to ensure the campaign starts off well.

“With very low participation by NZ bank workers we risk sending a message to the banks that targets and understaffing are issues in Australia but not in New Zealand,”  said Kelvin.

Kelvin says the survey provides a very good way for bank staff to express their views on the issues facing our industry, and that filling in the survey takes less than five minutes but could have a big impact in the future.

“I did the survey at home because that was easiest for me – I just took the address from the Sunday Star-Times article. I also forwarded the link to some friends, and asked them to fill it out as customers. I was happy to do that because the questions are very fair and balanced.”

“Finsec members need to get on the computer, at home, at work or at the library – in order for us to get a true and accurate picture of the impact of targets. If you don’t fill it out, the message you’re sending is that targets are not a problem or are only a minor problem. This message is not consistent with the concerns we hear every day about the negative effect of targets.”

Kiwi and Aussie battlers call for Better Banking – complete the survey today

“Our Trans-Tasman survey on banking needs all Finsec members and all their friends and families to take part,” said Finsec Campaigns Director Andrew Campbell. “We can make our workplaces fairer and better by making the most of this historic campaign.”
The Finsec and FSU campaign was launched this weekend, and attracted media coverage on both sides of the ditch – see the link below for the Sunday Star Times story.
Campbell said that NZ bank workers and customers had some catching up to do to match Australian participation in the story. “Very few Finsec members have completed the survey. It is essential that every Finsec member completes the survey and shares it with their friends, and we need a major drive to do this in the coming week.”
Go to now! If you can’t complete the survey at work, you may need to forward it to your home email. And while you’re at it, share the survey with your friends on facebook and forward it to everyone in your address book.

Trans-Tasman targets campaign kicking off this Sunday

Finsec is launching our Trans-Tasman campaign with the Finance Sector Union of Australia this weekend. Finsec members signed off on teaming up with bank workers in Australia to work together on the big issues like targets, and staffing.

There will be more to come on this next week but you might want to make sure you get along to the dairy and grab a copy of the Sunday Star-Times this weekend to check it all out!

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