Easy to switch

Paul and Jo Trotter didn't realise how easy it would be to switch to a customer-owned bank

Brisbane couple Paul and Jo Trotter had been unhappy for a long time about their experience banking with one of Australia’s four big banks.

The couple and their two teenage sons live at Redland Bay, on Brisbane’s east side.

The family had done all their banking at one of the big four banks for the past 14 years. They’d seen scandal after scandal, and had written and phoned their bank to voice their concerns, but nothing seemed to change.

They’d considered moving their accounts somewhere else, but were always worried that it would be too much hassle.

Then came the game changer – the revelations from the banking Royal Commission.

“What was coming out of the Royal Commission was really the final straw. When you hear things like the fact that dead people had been charged fees for decades, that was it,” Paul said. 

“For a long time, Jo and I as a family had talked about what was happening in banking, and what people should do about it, but we weren’t doing anything ourselves.  We decided that the big banks shouldn’t be able to get away with things like that.

“We just got to the point where we said we don’t care what it takes, people have to stand up and break the monopoly of the big four.”

So the Trotters looked to the customer-owned sector instead, and took the plunge to switch all their banking to Heritage Bank.

“The process could not have been easier. People are fearful that it will be too hard to switch, but it hasn’t been. We were prepared for it to be a bit messy, but it could not have been simpler. It’s actually been an easier process then when I’ve had my credit card defrauded in the past.

“For years now we’ve always felt uncared for, but in the short time we’ve been with Heritage it’s been a whole different experience.

“People think all banks are much of a muchness. But in my experience so far that’s just not the case. I can phone up the Heritage branch and people know me by my first name, they know my kids’ names. 

“There’s also that feeling that Heritage is actually on our side. It’s not beholden to shareholders. It has a different corporate structure completely. It’s a more democratic model. It’s a fundamentally better model, if, as a customer, I want good service, because we are in effect the shareholders. “

Paul said the lack of contact from his previous bank provided even further vindication of their decision.

“After 14 years, we moved every account we had over to Heritage and we did not receive a phone call from the bank we’d been with. Not once. 

“That’s how complacent they’ve become that they don’t even think the Royal Commission is going to have an impact. It just says to me that their priorities and corporate structure are wrong, they are not interested in the small guy, the family guy, who’s trying to do the best for his family.”

Paul said the entire banking system in Australia would benefit from people having the courage to look at a different model 

“We need to get the message out that switching is so easy to do. We phoned and we complained, but ultimately if you’re not willing to shift your money, then nothing’s going to change. 

“If people knew how easy it is, and started doing it, we’d get better banking across the whole system -  not just the mutual sector but the whole banking sector will benefit from true competition. “