EDITORIAL FRIDAY 26.11.10.
Although it seems that bank bashing has only become fashionable in the last few months, with both the government and the opposition climbing on board the bandwagon, some of us have been pointing out the excessive and unacceptable practices of banks for many years. Over that time, it has always seemed as if the targets of such criticism have the hide of the proverbial rhinoceros, as every attack appeared to leave no impression whatsoever. In fact, there have been times when it seemed as if the big banks actually enjoyed the criticism, smiling smugly from within their ivory towers, sipping Veuve Clicquot and puffing long panatellas. But now, suddenly and almost shockingly, one of the enemy appears to have broken ranks and spoken the unspeakable.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Cameron Clyne, the CEO at the National Australia Bank has said that it is time for banks to stop being arrogant. How extraordinary! But of course, this outburst of humble pie hasn’t suddenly come out of the blue. It is a carefully constructed reaction to the realisation that after years of customer dissatisfaction, the government might finally be about to actually do something to intervene. With both the government and the opposition taking up the cause, and preparing to impose greater regulation, the banks have suddenly found themselves backed into a corner of their own making. So naturally, the only course of action open to them is to try to head off any such moves by launching a pre-emptory strike.
While it might well seem cynical that after years of people like you and me loudly pointing out their failings, the banks are only now getting the message under threat of government intervention, it is nevertheless a good thing. Now at last, instead of spending millions on glossy television advertisements proclaiming their wonderful service, they might devote more efforts to actually delivering that wonderful service. You know, practical things, like abolishing those excessive fees and charges, keeping branches open in country towns, and giving customers a fair go on interest rates. If they did, it would do more to revive their public image than any glossy advertising campaign ever could, or any number of bank executives standing in front of the cameras wondering if perhaps they should become less arrogant.
Now pass me that bottle of Veuve Clicquot would you?