Speaking at the Australian British Chamber of Commerce in Sydney on Friday (3 August), Mr Morrison said that customers need to look out for their own interests and not sit back and let the big banks take advantage of them.
“Too often we, the customers, have also become complicit in allowing the deck to be stacked against us. You can guarantee it, the more passive a customer is, the worse deal they are going to get,” the Treasurer said.
“I believe that real market power needs to be put back in the hands of the customer. Power to change their circumstances. Power to get a better deal on their mortgage, on their credit card, on their business loan. Power to change the system. Power to control their own data and reap the value of its use, rather than those who have been using it for decades, or even more recently through the most ad a fed digital business models, for their own advantage and not yours.”
The Treasurer stressed that customers must stop being passengers and bystanders in their own cause.
“There is no one more committed to looking after your interest than you,” Mr Morrison said.
“You can’t take yourself out of the game and listen to those who want to infantilise you by promising a cotton wool regulatory system, with nanny-like regulators, that rather than awakening and empowering your consumer power, will rock you off to sleep.
“Beware those promising to protect you. Not only do they usually fail, not only do they cruelly and falsely raise your hopes with vain promises of being shielded or being compensated only to disappoint you.
“But by convincing you to stand down and leave it to them or others, because they think they know what’s better for you than you, they are only making you more vulnerable, not less. They are disarming the best weapon you have to get the best deal — you.”
Mr Morrison’s comments were followed by the release of the Productivity Commission’s final report into competition in the Australian financial system.
The report found that customers are not in a position where they are armed with the right information to make the right decisions for themselves.
The Treasurer said that ensuring customers get the information they need to make informed choices is both critical to a competitive market and critical for customers to get a better deal.
“Banking and financial regulation has had a dulling effect on customers,” Mr Morrison said.
“The customer has become disengaged from the process and the detail, evidenced by the fact that half of Australia’s banking customers still bank with their first-ever bank.
“Only one in three customers have thought about switching banks in the last two years.”
[Related: ASIC approves new banking code]