Searching for the worst banks just got better

CHOICE says improvements to Ombudsman data a good start

CHOICE says the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has made welcome improvements to its complaints data, making it easier to identify the worst performers.

The new data allows online comparisons of different products and financial services providers, and is based on the more than 30,000 disputes received by the FOS in 2010-11 – up 27 per cent from the previous year.

“The Ombudsman deserves credit for making it easier to find the worst offenders among financial institutions, including through searching by product category”, says director of campaigns and communications Christopher Zinn.

“These are improvements that CHOICE has been calling for through our Better Banking Campaign, and we are asking the FOS to go further in making this information more regular, comprehensive and easier for consumers to understand.”

CHOICE believes that instead of annual figures, the FOS should publish at least quarterly ‘league tables’ of how financial services providers are performing.

It should also be a requirement that the FOS and ASIC jointly publish searchable complaints data received by the banks themselves, not just the Ombudsman.

“While this is a step forward, the data still requires a high degree of financial literacy to wade through – and the average consumer is unlikely to be using a glossary to figure out which bank has the worst track record on complaints,” says Mr Zinn.

CHOICE says the value of the new format is already apparent from today’s figures, with one of the key findings that NAB has a stand out chance against the ‘big four’ banks of attracting complaints about consumer loans such as mortgages.

The figures show that NAB customers have a 67 in 100,000 chance of taking a dispute on consumer loans to FOS compared with 44 for Westpac, 42 for the CBA and 27 for the ANZ.

“Our most recent bank satisfaction survey told us that many consumers find switching banks relatively easy provided they know how to get a better deal, and information like this helps cut through the industry spin,” says Mr Zinn.

You can read more about CHOICE’s 2011 bank satisfaction survey

Media inquiries:

Christopher Zinn, CHOICE, Director of Campaigns and Communications: 0425 296 442

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