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ANZ Bank: revelations from the executive level 

If you follow my ramblings, even when they don’t make sense, you know I had my knives out for the ANZ National Bank here in New Zealand for what I think is questionable practice. So it was interesting to meet a few people tonight who are employees of the , one of whom was very staunch about defending her workplace against my charges about, well, .
   Humble pie time first: Sir John Anderson left the bank as a director 18 months ago, so the criticisms I put at him were unfair. I apologize to Sir John.
   Tonight, I don’t know whether I should be applauding the for brainwashing its younger staff so effectively or whether I should be congratulating myself for closing the overwhelming majority of accounts held there, given that there are people who do not give a damn about the customer.
   While people should defend their positions, they should also be open to hearing others’ viewpoints. Respectfully. The customer is right. Not so, it seems, at the ANZ.
   ‘The bank must make a profit, so it should make it from the mass customer base,’ I was told. ‘How would you do it?’
   I answered, ‘Through investing, as you did years ago before charging us.’
   She argued the usual points of the bank providing a service, before I confronted her with some basic logic that I have stated here before.
   A deposit to the bank is, after all, my loan to the bank. When the bank loans to me, can I charge it a “Jack privilege fee”?
   Around this point I was asked if we could change the subject.
   There are several conclusions we can draw. First, an executive at the ANZ bank, a fairly high-up one, is not open to hearing from her customers. She has her own world, where she has been conveniently conned into thinking the solution is the only one, when history tell us it isn’t—and that the bank’s cutting of costs over the last 20 years should actually make it more efficient.
   Another member of the staff, a little older but I understand a little more junior, put forward her theory which made a bit more sense, about how mortgages no longer funded the bank’s costs as effectively. She did not know for sure.
   But this shows just how bad the ANZ is. Different answers from different people—but the higher up you go, the less they care.
   Front-line staff, as I discussed earlier, cannot offer a credible explanation about bank fees that any customer who has been there for 20 or more years can fathom. Fact: people do have memories.
   And it seems that it is accepted as gospel that customers are to be taken from even at a higher level, no questions asked.
   How well ANZ has managed to blind its staff.
   A good brand is one that listens to consumers about their concerns—and actually levels with internal and external audiences about its policies.
   This experience confirms that the ANZ cannot level to either executives or front-line branch personnel, which means consumers are too far down the food chain for it to reach.
   This Australian-owned bank has been profiting very well from everyday New Zealanders over the last few years, too.
   But I cannot see that continue.
   Any brand expert will tell you that for all the financial analyses that a client shrouds itself in, the minute the brand falters, the effects on the bottom line will be felt.
   One of the symptoms is what I describe above: one based around the hope that people simply do not remember how they behaved before they began cutting their services and putting up charges.
   It is a failure to be and to tell the truth to those consumers—and it only takes one who is aged over 30 to be able to remember the good ol’ days versus what I consider to be the treatment that is metered out today.
   Just as I said a few months ago, the TSB Bank seems to be the only choice New Zealanders have, and at least the profits don’t make their way over to Sydney.
   It was my ‘prerogative’, said the executive, for me to do as I wished with my money, if I had gone to the TSB.
   No attempt to get it back—no promises to look into things. Even others have offered that to keep me on as a customer. Higher up, I guess, no one really cares. A lost customer isn’t important.
   Even if the lost customer is a stubborn bastard with a big mouth.
   Meanwhile, TSB is getting clients left, right and centre among people I know—on a limited budget a fraction of ANZ’s, and only one branch here in Wellington.
   If the ANZ wishes, I am happy to run a seminar for them to inform them of the niceties of listening to their customers. Unsurprisingly, I understand tonight that its profits are heading south this year.
   This problem won’t be fixed with , or .
   It might be fixed by giving customers what they want and pursuing something other than short-term profit—but the latter is exactly the message the ANZ has been sending me year after year.
   Because if banks aren’t looking at the long term, then what heck are we entrusting a penny to them?
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Entries from 2006 to the end of 2009 were done on the Blogger service. As of January 1, 2010, this blog has shifted to a Wordpress installation, with the latest posts here.
   With Blogger ceasing to support FTP publishing on May 1, I have decided to turn these older pages in to an archive, so you will no longer be able to enter comments. However, you can comment on entries posted after January 1, 2010.

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