A new poll, conducted by the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA), supports the findings of 2014 research commissioned by People’s Choice Credit Union and has renewed calls for major banks to prominently disclose their ownership of sub-brands, many of which look like regional banks or non-banks.
“Australians continue to be unaware of the fact that Westpac owns BankSA, St George, Bank of Melbourne and RAMS, or that Commonwealth Bank owns Bankwest and part-owns Aussie,” said People’s Choice Credit Union Managing Director, Peter Evers.
“Australians deserve crystal clear information when it comes to their banking choices, and right now, the rules that allow this kind of multi-branding are muddying the waters,” Mr Evers said.
“After a year of calls to change the current regulations so that banks can’t continue to bury these disclosures in the fine print, it’s disappointing to find that nothing has changed,” he said.
“The latest research by COBA shows that more than 80% of Australians think there should be more transparency in advertising from the banks about multi-branding; a statistic we found to be consistent with a similar poll we commissioned last year.”
The credit union’s 2014 survey of more than 1,500 consumers, conducted by the Ehrenberg-Bass Marketing Institute, found 84% of respondents believed banks should have to disclose who owns them when they advertise and that two-thirds of people thought multi-branding was used to trick customers about ownership.
COBA’s latest Essential Research poll has found that, of the 1,000 people sampled, more than 90% say transparency and clarity of information is important when deciding who to bank with, with both polls clearly demonstrating the need for better consumer information on financial products.
“People’s Choice, together with COBA, believes a fair solution is easy: in any advertising, financial institutions should have to declare their ultimate ownership prominently and clearly,” says Mr Evers.
“We need to increase transparency, restore consumer trust, promote genuine competition in our financial system and make it easier for consumers to exercise real choice,” he said.
“The Murray Report recommendations resulting from the Financial System Inquiry must be acted on before another year of confusion is allowed to pass.”