Nine out of ten Australians aren’t sure their bank is on their side, according to research conducted by industry super fund-owned bank ME. Sounds like you? Here’s how to shake off your ‘bank-xiety’.
Banks play an essential role in our financial wellbeing. However, right now, plenty of Australians aren’t feeling the love.
It’s no surprise that after a string of financial sector inquiries including the recent Financial Services Royal Commission, our confidence in banks has been dented.
94% don’t trust their bank
If you’ve started to question whether your bank is really acting in your best interests, you’re certainly not alone.
New research by ME found 94% of Australians are feeling ‘bank-xious’ – that is, unsure about whether they’re being charged fair fees or being sold products they don’t really need, or feeling that they’re seen by their bank as less important than profits.
Only 14% are taking action
The thing is, you don’t have to put up with bank-xiety.
You’re relying on your bank to take care of your money, facilitate your daily transactions and hold your savings. So it makes sense that you should feel confident your bank is doing the right thing by you – not just sometimes, but all the time.
Despite the widespread loss of confidence, only 14% of Australians are taking steps to switch to a bank they trust. But beating bank-xiety can be easier than you think. The trick is knowing what to look for.
5 tips to choose a bank that shares your values
Use our five tips to ascertain if the bank of your choice shares your ethics and values, and to ensure you’re getting a good deal.
1) Weigh up the fees and rates you’ll pay – the cost of financial products should always be clearly spelled out. Check the fine print for any hidden fees and charges. Remember, the simple things in life are often the best – the more complicated a banking product is, the harder it can be to understand what you’re getting and what paying for it. Keep it simple.
2) Check that you’re not paying your bank to look after your money – if a bank wants to charge regular account-keeping fees on your everyday money, don’t walk, run. It’s the same with ATM fees. You shouldn’t have to pay to access your own cash, especially after the big four banks decided in 2017 to stop charging customers of other banks a $2 fee to withdraw cash from their ATMs  .
3) Check the hard sell – it’s convenient to have a bank that offers all the essentials in one place. Be on the lookout though for a bank that’s going to slip you products you don’t need, want and never asked for.
4) Financially educate yourself – we could all use a helping hand with money management, and when a bank provides a variety of free education tools, it’s a) something you should utilise to boost your financial education and b) a sure sign that it wants you to be able to make informed decisions about your money.
5) Assess the ethical credentials of your bank – if you care about ethical or responsible investment, you can assess if the bank of your choice invests in, trades in or has exposure to the following things: fossil fuels and coal mining, weapons, tobacco, exploitation of the environment and human rights abuses. Market Forces, for instance, has a handy table  that sets out their research on which banks do and don’t have a record of funding fossil fuels.
The bottom line is that not all banks are the same. Switching to a bank you trust can restore your confidence and give your financial wellbeing a valuable boost.
This article is brought to you by ME. For more information, please visit www.mebank.com.au
Members Equity Bank Limited ABN 56 070 887 679 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 229500.