As MoneyTalk predicted several weeks ago, Australia’s banks have launched a charm offensive to win back customer trust.

And not a moment too soon, in our view.

“We Hear You” advertisements in national newspapers maintained last Sunday, with the promise: “We know people want to see improvements in Australian banking. That’s why we’re making changes for the better.”

And it went on: “…It all starts with our customers. That’s why we’re listening to your concerns and taking action.”

The campaign has been launched by the Australian Bankers’ Association, the group which lobbies for our biggest financial institutions.

Their newspaper campaign, featuring four full pages of advertisments in papers from The Sunday Telegraph to the Financial Review , also promised that “Australia’s leading banks are working together to make banking better.”

Of course, there have been some cynical remarks. But this can only be good news for you and I.

If the banks really are looking out for better products, better service and better culture, as these advertisements promise, perhaps we should be prepared to give them a second chance.

They have set up a website – www.betterbanking.net.au – so you can see what is being done.

Take a look. And tell us what you think.

On Thursday, we got another sharp reminder of why our banks have so much catching up to do. The National Australia Bank’s wealth arm was forced to pay $36.5 million to its customers, after wrongly charging fees to superannuation fund members and wrongly denying insurance claims.

And Bankwest wrongly calculated $4.9 million in home loan interest for customers with offset accounts, leading to refunds for 10,800 clients.

MoneyTalk has admonished bank culture over a series of articles.

However, the promises made in the latest campaign could be the beginning of a realisation that great service is vital in a service industry. If that’s what this is about, we’re happy to support it.

 

So here at MoneyTalk, we’ve decided to give the banks the benefit of the doubt. And we’d love to hear you stories of how things are changing at the front line:  in the queue, at the tell’s window and when you apply for loans and help.

We will be watching. But we’re hoping we can start to report the first green shoots of positive change.