What's your excuse for not switching your bank or KiwiSaver? I have been muttering forever about changing my bank to a New Zealand-owned one such as Kiwibank, TSB, Co-operative, Heartland, SBS or one of the many credit unions or building societies that offer banking-like services. The four Kiwi-owned banks sit at the top of Canstar's banking satisfaction table.
My bank infuriates me regularly, and I'm outta there as soon as I can extract myself from a complicated power of attorney (POA) I handle. I'd need to move myself and the other person to make it work for me and that's temporarily on hold.
Like me, plenty of New Zealanders want to switch for better service or more ethical financial services, but don't do it. I asked Kiwibank and Pathfinder KiwiSaver what the main excuses we make to ourselves are for not to take that step.
For banking, the Kiwibank customer research team identified the two top excuses as:
• A perception that it's really difficult to switch banks thanks to too many forms, identification requirements, and that you need to visit a branch, says Hayley Tito, senior customer experience manager at Kiwibank. The answer to that one is if you have a smartphone, proof of address and a New Zealand passport or driver's licence, you can do it all on your phone. I've been through these online ID checks with other organisations. The ID checker systems are slick and you're signed up in a few minutes.
• Starting again with new automatic payments, direct debits, credit cards, new account details for employers and so on is seen as too much hassle. Kiwibank like other banks will identify and transfer all of your recurring payments, and you can set up new PINs on your smartphone. It's a lot less painful than it was back in pre-digital days.
If you have a home loan with your bank, there are a few extra things to consider before switching banks, says Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden. They include:
• The possibility of early repayment charges and cash contribution claw backs if you break fixed interest rate contracts.
• Legal fees to refinance.
• Interest rate discounts may require the customer's income to be direct credited into an account with that bank.
Pathfinder's chief executive John Berry says he gets emails every week from new customers who wish they'd made the switch long ago. Of those who have chosen Pathfinder, but don't switch, some of the common reasons are:
1. They can put it off until next week. But next week never comes.
2. The fear of forms, documents, phone calls and hassles to switch KiwiSaver. There are not. You just need your IRD number, and driver's license or passport, says Berry.
3. Customer's fear of having to call their current provider and admit wanting to move. To switch you fill in a form with your new provider, who handles the move - although you might get a call from the provider trying to retain your business.
4. That their KiwiSaver has fallen in value and they will lock in losses if they switch. If you're moving from growth to growth, balanced to balanced, or conservative to conservative, you're buying and selling in the same market.
5. Customers want to see their KiwiSaver account balance alongside their bank account. The answer to that is you don't want to see your KiwiSaver balance too often or you risk making short term decisions for a long term.
You may also want to switch insurance providers, to save money, or get better cover, or service. Be very wary, however, with policies that cover your health or life. Even minor ailments since you last took out a policy could be viewed as pre-cursors to illnesses that will be automatically excluded from the new policy. Often it's best to ask your existing provider for a better deal, without losing cover for conditions that would now be considered pre-existing on a new policy.
The Banking Ombudsman scheme has useful information on its website about switching, and the NZ Bankers Association has a useful switching guide at Tinyurl.com/NZBankersSwitch