By John Sage
A reputation is like a pair of white jocks. Once it gets dirty you can never get it completely clean again.
To be fair, the banks were always going to be easy to hate. People are ready to believe anything unfavourable said about them, and attribute malicious intentions to their mistakes.
What makes the conversation around the royal commission different and more deeply staining is that it’s APRA wagging their finger. It’s the Australian Securities and Investments Commission that’s uncovering factual wrongdoings and deliberate shrouding of toxic culture.
This isn’t just Fred and Mary Jones griping about this month’s mortgage repayments or inefficient service. It’s built-in dishonesty such as charging fees for no service or unnecessary fees charged to customers for moving money between their own accounts, to the tune of $50 million.
So here’s my point.
Any industry or business that’s allowed to operate without real competition becomes fat, sluggish, and is likely to become spoiled and undisciplined.
This is what has happened with the banks.
A Better Way
If you are on your toes, taking regular action to keep your customers happy, and pushing yourself to be better than the competition, it benefits the consumers. It gives consumers the opportunity to say, “I see that your competitor can offer me a comparable product with much better conditions. Can you match it or should I leave?”
If there are no genuine competitors, consumers are stuck choosing between bad and worse.
Consumers have come to not expect much from the big banks. The very least they expected was to not be deliberately screwed over. The idea that the institutions they bank and invest with should be ethically sound and provide them strong service and returns were daydreams.
So what’s the solution? Beyond the pain that the current royal commission will dish out, how do we get the banks to try harder permanently?
We set a higher standard. We give them competition. We give consumers something better.
We finish the monopoly and move our business and money to better options.
That will not only give them the message loud and clear, but it will make sure your money is getting the respect and results it deserves.
There’s a fine line between compliance and having room for healthy competition. That’s the point we need to reach after all the dust settles.
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