MEDIA RELEASE: Older Australians bank on a fair go with new Code of Practice

The revised Code of Banking Practice released today is a positive step towards giving older Australians more confidence in the banking system by improving fairness and reforming the complaints process, according to COTA Australia.

Chief Executive Ian Yates said older people, like many in the community, have been critical of banks’ level of transparency and the way they deal with customers. Older people often feel they don’t get a fair go from a complaints process that can be remote, time consuming and fails to resolve their concerns.

“COTA hopes the new banking code will mean a new beginning in the industry’s relationship with customers, particularly for older people who often feel banking systems marginalise or ignore them,” Mr Yates said today.

“The new commitment to tell people about no or low fee accounts if they hold concession cards could be a real benefit to many older people dealing with the challenge of managing on fixed or declining incomes.

“Older people are often hard hit by account keeping fees but can find the vast array of accounts, terms and conditions quite bewildering and don’t always end up with the best deal for themselves.

“Anything which encourages financial institutions to give people relevant information in an easy-to-understand form is a step in the right direction and will save customers money.

“We have seen a trend in recent years of more older Australians entering retirement still with a mortgage and credit card debt. These debts can become a substantial financial drain on those with limited income or when their circumstances change.

“New financial hardship provisions in the code can help banks achieve a better understanding of when customers might be approaching financial difficulty and increase their preparedness to work with people to resolve those issues before their circumstances worsen and more drastic intervention is needed.

“Along with reforms to bank complaints processes, a more compassionate and proactive approach to customers suffering financial difficulty will greatly improve the banking experience for older Australians,” Mr Yates said.

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Jane Garcia 0434 489 533