Big banks haunted by Cup Day rate rises

The major banks are still struggling to rebuild small business satisfaction six months after raising their interest rates higher than the official cash rate, according to the latest DBM Business Financial Services Monitor.

 

According to the April report, both NAB and the Commonwealth Bank have again failed to lift their customer satisfaction levels above a score of seven out of 10, scoring 6.8 and 6.9 respectively.

 

Satisfaction levels for both banks have actually decreased in the last six months, with CBA scoring 7.1 in October and NAB scoring seven.

 

Meanwhile, Westpac has maintained its lead in the latest report, scoring 7.2, followed closely by ANZ with a score of seven.

 

DBM managing director Dhruba Gupta says all four banks were on a steady upward trend throughout 2010 until the interest rate “storm” on Melbourne Cup Day in November, led by CBA.

 

“Those rate announcements sent satisfaction with three of the major banks into reverse. There has been some recovery this year, but overall the major banks are still behind, despite some very intensive efforts to win back and keep their business customers,” Gupta says.

 

In the micro business segment, which represents businesses with less than $1 million in revenue, the banks’ scores are almost identical to their overall ratings, with differences no greater than 0.1 for any of the four.

 

The report reveals ANZ fell in both the micro and small markets, which affected its overall rating. In the medium market, it returned to its best performance in the last 12 months, although it is still behind its competitors.

 

Westpac experienced decreases in the micro and medium markets, and has experienced a marked fall in the large market.

 

Although Westpac remains in the lead for the micro market, this is only the case because second-in-line ANZ suffered a setback.

 

According to the report, NAB was the biggest improver in April, particularly in the medium and large markets. It now shares the lead in the large market with CBA.

 

Finally, CBA experienced a month of relative stability compared to its competitors; it maintains its lead in the large market, although it now shares this spot with NAB.

 

Gupta says while it’s hard to predict the Reserve Bank’s next move on interest rates, the banks may not necessarily follow suit as swiftly as they did in November, particularly NAB.

 

“There’s been a lot of advertising by NAB, promoting its plan to break away from the other banks,” Gupta says.

 

“If NAB is genuine about what they’re saying, maybe they won’t join the other three in increasing their rates.”

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