Responsible Lenders

I have been a Budget Advisor for over 20 years and have over 38 years in the finance industry. 22 of these years were with a bank transitioning away, as has been the trend, from the established ‘service focus’ to a ‘sales focus’, loyalty of customers became irrelevant and it was, for the banks, all about entanglement. We were informed that a customer who had one of two accounts with the bank would find it too easy to change lenders, whereas the customer who had accounts, insurance, loans and anything else the bank was able to ‘sell’ to the customer, were ‘stuck’ to the bank/lender. The untangling involved in changing providers would just become too daunting for them to contemplate.

One major bank is so blatant about their selling focus; it doesn’t have branches or service centres any more, but has ‘Stores’. It is curious that banks are one of the few businesses that have the cheek to charge for service, I just can’t imagine there being a service fee imposed when I shop at a supermarket or visit a service station. I guess they can’t get away with double dipping!

Research shows less than 13% of bank customers ever change banks but when they do it is usually out of disgust and disillusionment at the attitude, pricing or poor advice or service provided.

I feel significant cynicism towards lenders in New Zealand now, for how they treat their customers, their focus on profit rather than people and particularly in their treatment of those who are in financial difficulty, discomfort or distress.

A few years ago my hopes were raised when it appeared the politicians were listening and going to legislate to ‘guide’ the lenders into being responsible. As I suffer from an incurable optimism I expected this would make a difference but unfortunately I was wrong and disappointed, once again!

I can’t help thinking Winston Churchill would have said of our politicians, “That never in the annals of human history have so few, disappointed so many, so often”. But I digress.