Banks need to work on public image, say experts

Australian banks need to improve their image and reputation in order to “win back consumers”, according to respondents of a new survey.

More than three-quarters (79 per cent) of panelists surveyed by finder.com.au said that banks currently “aren’t doing enough” to preserve their reputations and “win the trust of consumers”.

Leanne Pilkington of Laing+Simmons was one of the industry members surveyed. She said: “The banks have themselves acknowledged that there is a trust disconnect with consumers.

“Rate movements out of sync with the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) exacerbate the problem, especially when reporting season comes along and billion-dollar profits are the norm.”

Australian banks, in particular CBA, have been subject to increased scrutiny in the past month following a series of alleged scandals.

The Australian Bankers' Association said last week that there is “more work to be done” to improve trust in the sector, while Kelly O’Dwyer, the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, has said that there’s a need for greater accountability in the banking sector.

CEDA proposals

The finder.com.au survey also considered the proposals made in the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) Housing Australia report released in August.

The CEDA report argued for relaxed but more consistent council planning restrictions, for improved transport infrastructure and for the strengthening of laws to better protect long-term renters.

Additionally, the report called for policy to promote downsizing by relaxing the rules around means testing of income, the replacement of transaction taxes with land taxes and a higher capital gains tax.

The survey found that 80 per cent of the panelists supported relaxed council planning restrictions and the introduction of a land tax in place of stamp duty as a means of addressing housing affordability issues.

Further, 68 per cent of the respondents favoured altering tenancy laws to cater to long-term tenants more, while 58 per cent disagreed with increasing capital gains tax. 

[Related: Finance sector must ‘rebuild trust’: Laker]

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Lucy Dean

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