Credit Union Australia and bankmecu have dismissed claims from Bank of Melbourne’s chief executive, Scott Tanner, that suggest the lender is independent of the big four.
Last week, Mr Tanner said Bank of Melbourne was taking share “away from the major banks”, giving the impression that it is independent of Westpac.
His comments infuriated bankmecu managing director Damien Walsh and Credit Union Australia chief executive Chris Whitehead, both of whom believe the bank should disclose it is affiliated with Westpac.
“Multi-brand strategies being executed by the major banks are creating a false perception that there is competition in the banking marketplace because there is no transparency in the marketing of the sub-brands,” Mr Walsh said.
“We would like to see the federal government require banks to prominently disclose ownership in all advertising of wholly-owned subsidiary sub-brands.
“The government has already set a precedent for helping consumers to make informed decisions when it brought in legislation that requires financial institutions to consistently publish a comparison rate alongside the offered rate.”
In a survey of more than 1,000 Australians conducted by bankmecu in September this year, 74 per cent of people say they would support requiring banks that are wholly-owned by other banks to disclose their ownership in their advertising.
In addition, only 11 per cent of people believe having smaller banking institutions like Bank of Melbourne, St George, BankWest, UBank and RAMS – which are owned by the major banks – increases consumer choice.
“This is an easy and simple step that the government can take to deliver on its promise to ensure there is competition in the Australian banking market by helping consumers to make informed decisions about their banking,” Mr Walsh said.
But Bank of Melbourne’s Scott Tanner said the bank was providing true competition in the mortgage market and was independent of the major lenders.
“Bank of Melbourne is taking share from the major banks; more customers than ever before are joining us and enjoying the benefits,” he said.
“Bank of Melbourne has brought real competition to banking by consistently offering Victorians a better deal.”