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Aussies put the spin on banking fees and profits

These statements on the ABA website and a linked article on their site.  

New data on payments fraud shows that while the value of transactions continues to climb, the incidence of fraud remains low. (Credit card fraud up 20% in 12 months)
Fraud losses are currently around $5 per man woman and child per year. There were all sorts of poetic interpertations of statistics with the ABA inferring they were responsible for more branches and ATM's, despite a drop in both, unless you count the building society branches and  ATM's as being provided by the banks. I'm sure the building societies don't.

From the ABA
Fees in the banking sector are now growing in line with the national economy.

Av fees per annum          1998            2007
Retail customers           $1,435         $4,031     up  280%   
Business                        $3,133        $5,752    up 183%       

I read an interesting piece of writing from Professor Kim Hawtrey of the Department of Economics Macquarie University. Interesting, not from an academic point of view, but more as an example of the most outrageous spin-doctoring I've ever read from an academic. The fact that the article was provided via a link on the ABA website may explain it's content. I have included my own translation below the dear professor's words in inverted comma's. The ABA have also 'promoted' him from Associate to full Professor to lend weight to the spin no doubt.

'growth of commercial banking fee revenue has remained subdued'
- retail banking fee revenue is doing fabulously ~100% higher fee increases than commercial

'consumers are driving down the average price of banking services by choosing low-cost options'
- consumers are to poor to pay fees and are using the lowest cost options - not driving down prices just reducing their expenditure.

'retail banking fees around those of overseas peers'
- I wouldn't expect this type of generalisation unless it was the intention to gloss over the real meaning. Which peers? What method?

'the growth of banking fee revenue is broadly in line with national economic growth'

- broadly? Professor of generalisations. Fees have increased by 280% in 9 years.
I don't believe national economic growth is anywhere near that. The reality is that fees are far ahead of the national economy, even if you don't take into account the fallout from the banks' subprime stupidity.

'the user-pays system has allowed banks to reduce interest charges, with customers on average gaining more from cost reductions on loan interest margins than they have paid through account fee increases'
- I don't get this at all? Does anyone else? Aren't we all users - like it or not, and he infers the banks are responsible for lowering their margins out of generosity.

'user pays is allowing customers to make choices about their banking and data show that consumers are gravitating toward low-cost options,banks to reduce interest charges, and the facts show that customers have gained far more than cost reductions on loan interest margins than they have lost through fee increases. responding to transparent fee information by switching products.'
- consumers cannot afford to pay the fees for most services so they aren't using them, and don't we hate it that we actually have to tell them what the fees are.

I believe the ass. professor may be missing his calling, politics is a natural for him - or perhaps he might become a broker. The ABA could at least quote an academic who sounded vaguely scientific in their approach and conclusions, perhaps there were no real scientists available with necessary conclusions. Of the ABA we expect it of course, but shame on you professor, (recipient of at least one $10,000 external 'collaborative grant' from the Australian Bankers Association) way to go - PHD's are obviously going cheap.


Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 05 June, 2008, 04:47Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

'the growth of banking fee revenue is broadly in line with national economic growth'

 - Ass. Prof. Hawtrey

           Australian Bureau of Statistics                  Australian Bankers Association

                          Average weekly earnings
                            All                        National               Retail
                       employees                  accounts             Bank Fees
1998            $        594                $        747                $1,435
2007            $        879                $     1,100                $4,031
INCREASE             148%                       147%                280%




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