The Northern Star

Bigger role for credit unions

SUMMERLAND Credit Union has welcomed reports that Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan will offer credit unions and building societies more assistance to allow them to grow and compete fairly with the big four banks.

While the Government's final banking package has yet to be released, Treasurer Swan has publicly expressed his support for alternatives to the big banks.

“It's great to see this acknowledgment of the role credit unions and building societies can play in offering lower interest rates and better choice to consumers who are sick of the big banks,” Summerland's chief executive Margot Sweeny said.

A recent KPMG survey confirmed the ‘strength, resilience and competitiveness' of the mutual banking sector.

The report noted that the mutual sector's ‘place in the Australian financial services sector is well-deserved, with another year of strong performance, increasing profitability and balance sheet growth'.

“Credit unions and building societies are strong, secure and regulated the same way as banks,” Ms Sweeny said.

“And they are ready to put competition back into retail banking and give Australian consumers a better deal.”

A recent national poll by Essential Research showed a growing level of dissatisfaction with the major banks, but that consumers believe there are too many obstacles to making a switch.

Forty per cent said they had considered changing their main bank at some point in the last five years, but two-thirds of this group ended up sticking with their current bank.

The poll also found strong support for Federal Government action to promote competition, make it easier to shift accounts and abolish exit fees.

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