New Zealanders have themselves to blame if they don't like the bank they're dealing with, and judging by the review of the industry by the Reserve Bank and the Financial Markets Authority, they don't. It seems the customer is seen as little more than a ledger entry, increasing the ballooning banks' bottom line.
The eye-watering profits sucked out of Kiwi households every year are obscene and this year's no exception. The biggest of the four Aussie banks here, the ANZ, returned a couple of billion for the September year with the other three, Westpac, the BNZ and the ASB hovering around a billion bucks each.
If Kiwis don't like the service they're getting they should shop around and if they don't like their money being vacuumed up and sent offshore they should look at the homegrown banks, like Kiwibank, a minnow compared to the others in the industry making just over a hundred million in profits.
One of the review's authors, the straight-talking central banker Adrian Orr, who calls a spade a shovel and has used plenty of them in his time, had a message for the banks. He's worked for a couple of them on his way up the corporate ladder and said they had a responsibility to ensure their customers understand the products and services they're buying into.
It shouldn't be a case of signing up for the mortgage for example and 30 years later, having paid twice its worth, wondering where all the money's gone. And that seems to be happening across the board.
The banks were found to understand well enough their customers' short-term satisfaction but were doing little to monitor them a decade down the track and find out whether the mortgage, or whatever they'd signed up to, was still fit for purpose. In other words, people's circumstances change and the banks should be there to ensure their bread and butter is still on the mortgage manor's table.
If they forget about them, Orr rightly warns, the risk is great to the banks and to their customers, as demonstrated by the Global Finance Crisis a decade ago.
They've been given until March next year to come up with a plan on how they're going to address their shortcomings, to basically convince the Government that they're engaging with, and working in the best interests of their customers, and not just themselves.
Let's face it the banks' won't want to be the second target on the Government's hit list after the oil companies, whose profits in this country, by comparison, are minuscule.