Personal debt weighs on the shoulders of many Australians but support services are available from a wide range of organisations, including banks. While often associated with the loans and credit cards that lead us into debt, banks also provide help and information about how to deal with it.
As the Australian Banking Association’s Chief Executive, Steven Münchenberg explained:
“The Code of Banking Practice sets out the commitment banks have made to their customers, whether individuals, families or small businesses. The Code sets the standards for fairness, transparency, behaviour and accountability that customers can expect from their banks,” he said.
“Customers want to be confident that their bank will do the right thing by them, and the Code is an important element in giving the assurance that we will.”
Münchenberg also said the latest updates to this code give you more rights and provide straightforward ways for you to complain if you feel your bank has not met its obligations.
The key changes are particularly beneficial for people dealing with debt or other financial hardship. These modifications, which have to come into effect within the next 12 months include:
Once banks adopt these measures, it should lead to a more effective system for dealing with debt and catching it before things get out of hand for you.
Some of the Big Banks have already adopted the new Code, with ANZ and Commbank announcing their support at the end of January 2013.
While the Code of Banking Practice outlines your rights and the banks responsibilities to you before or during financial hardship, there are also specific support services available from different lenders.
ANZ, for example, has recently started advertising its Financial Planning services, which can help with everything from cutting down debt to saving more and adding to your superannuation.
Meanwhile, NAB recently announced the introduction of Money Tracker: Australia’s first financial management tool fully embedded in internet banking and directly linked to a customer’s NAB accounts.
Group Executive Personal Banking, Lisa Gray, said new technologies like Money Tracker are another way banks can help customers to better manage their money.
“Money Tracker puts more information in the hands of our customers to help them make fully informed decisions about their finances,” she said.
A similar service is offered with St George’s SENSE accounts, with statements breaking down purchases into different categories and offering insights into where you could save.
The key difference though, is that NAB’s Money Tracker applies to all NAB accounts, which should include your credit cards as well as everyday and saving options.
The introduction of these types of features and services has got the ball rolling, with smaller banks expected to follow.
HSBC, for instance, has been conducting research into savings and retirement to better understand the Australian personal finance outlook, with ith the bank’s latest research showing a strong link between increased savings and financial planning services.
It is easy to get caught up focusing on just meeting repayments when debt is a concern, but understanding your rights and the services available makes a big difference.
The changes made by the Australian Bankers Association and updates from individual banks give you even more opportunities to find a way out of debt and into better financial standing.
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