Welcome to 2017 – the year the banks have decided to woo back your trust.
Of course, they’re not very good at wooing. So their mission to re-engage with consumers is being handled by the boys at their highly expensive advertising agencies – a group about as in touch with ordinary Australians as Donald Trump.
Westpac was first out of the blocks with a highly emotive campaign that, at first sight, seemed almost too good to be true.
A pregnant woman is on her way to the maternity ward. The voiceover talks to her unborn baby.
“You should know it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. People worry. Your parents worry. Will they be able to give you the best education? Will you be able to buy your own home? Only time will tell.”
The Westpac Bump program deposits $200 into accounts opened on behalf of children born in 2017, accessible when they turn 16 in 2033.
Free money? We’ll let you be the judge. But there was quite a reaction on social media…particularly from cynics with calculators.
Take Maree Baker. “So going on the ABS for 2015, when Australia registered 305,377 births, Westpac could potentially have to pay out $61,075,400, which they get to “keep” for 16 years.
“They also get a whole lot of new customers, who they also get to ‘keep’ for at least 16 years. Good bit of marketing there, Westpac!”
John Galbraith was even more scathing on Facebook. “What a pathetic piece of manipulative advertising this is.
“Using what is supposed to be a wonderful time to pressure parents to put away money for 16 years at next to no interest. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”
The ANZ had another great idea. Money management is complex, right? How about demonstrating it’s really easy…so long as you leave it to us?
A man explains how offset accounts work while solving a Rubik’s cube. A woman demonstrates the purpose of equity loans while surfing. Redraw facilities are broken down by a woman abseiling down a building.
Their mystifying slogan: “Know what you know with ANZ Ready Buy” – apparently a product that helps home buying.
The more usual face of the banks was on display when it was revealed this morning that two of the big four have cut the interest rates paid to savers while you and I were enjoying the beach over summer, as average returns on a key type of savings account dipped below the rate of inflation.
Guess who they were. Oh yes: ANZ and Westpac.
Canstar, the interest rate comparison website, said there had been 13 cuts in savings account interest rates across its database of banks in December, compared with only two increases. There were also 16 cuts in savings account rates in November, compared with one increase.
Westpac and ANZ were the largest banks to cut these rates last month, each lowering rates on online saver accounts by 0.2 percentage points, a sign lenders are competing less fiercely for this type of money.
Now that’s not very warm and friendly. Know what you know, as the ANZ says.