Crisis of Trust - Banks and Financial Services

Trust series #2 - Customer expectations have changed since the Royal Commission

3 big ideas

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What made us think

Our point of view

Why it matters

How it applies in the real world

In this blog series we’re talking about trust across the banking and financial services, the insurance industry, and the digital space. In the previous blog, we talked about what exactly trust is, why trust is important in business, and how exactly businesses can begin to tackle the complex nuances of trust with their customers. Our point of view has been developed from qualitative research with customers, from which we developed a persona matrix for businesses to better understand their customers.

In this post, we will focus in on trust in the banks and financial services. Our next blog will focus on insurance, and the last blog on the digital space.

Top elements of trust in banking and financial services


Last year, the Hayne Royal Commission exposed a multitude of bad practices by the banking and financial services industry as part of its Interim Report. The $1 billion-plus “fee for no service” scandal was one of the worst to be revealed, with companies like AMP, ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac, admitting to collecting fees from deceased clients or clients that received no services.

Months later, trust in the system still seems to be lacking, with visible flow-on effects for the insurance industry. As part of our recent research into the trust crisis, we uncovered insights into the needs, pain points and behaviours of customers in a post-Royal Commission Australia.  

In light of the recent Haynes Royal Commission, consumers are more willing to give the challenger brands a go

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has undoubtedly hurt perceptions of the big banks. In this current climate, consumers are more likely to be wary of the big name brands involved, and are much more willing to consider smaller brands – the latter are perceived to be more interested in serving the needs of everyday people and their communities over company shareholders.

“The big 4 are criminals”

But the security, convenience and legacy attached to the big name brands hinders consumers from moving elsewhere

Whilst the image of the big banks has been tarnished, customers often feel powerless to do anything. The majority have been customers of their existing banks for a long-time and subsequently perceive the act of swapping banks to be far too painful. Whilst the existing bank may have been chosen for no special reason, this legacy provides consumers with convenience.

“I haven’t really considered changing banks because of the royal commission. There’s too much involved to change banks.”
“I’ve been with CBA ever since I was a kid.”


People with less complex banking needs are less demanding of their banks, and therefore are more apathetic towards the data breaches.

Due to life stage and/or banking product, some consumers are less demanding than others about the trusted relationship they have with their bank. A trusted relationship with one’s bank is seen to be more important for those with more complex banking products, like mortgages or loans. Regardless, good rates and fees, as well as ease of use, is important for all.

“I don’t have much money so I’m probably more trusting.”
“I’m in a different life stage now where I have the least amount of debt I’ve ever had. I’m less involved.”


What does this mean for your bank?

Customers may feel somewhat reluctant to go elsewhere, but with the approach of Open Banking there is a real risk of significant customer churn. It’s important now more than ever to differentiate on experience.

During this time where consumers are reconsidering who they bank with, there is a big opportunity for smaller banks who were unaffected by the Royal Commission to differentiate themselves from the negative buzz, and emphasise their elements of trust which set them apart.

Big banks have a very short window to regain trust through action. This could include new product offerings and value propositions, building new digital capability, or implementing process changes that better support customer outcomes and empowerment.

In our next bog of the trust series, we’ll shift our focus to trust in the insurance space.

Want to know more?
Speak with your
subject matter expert:
Chris Wood

Karla Samuels

October 2019

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