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BankWest merger concerns: survey

ONE in six BankWest customers and more than 7 per cent of St George customeras plan to vote with their feet and leave the banks as a result of the recent corporate activity, a new poll by Retail Banking Review has revealed. The poll, undertaken by financial services research group CoreData, surveyed 842 consumers.It found nearly a quarter – 23.3 per cent of BankWest customers and 24.1 per cent of St George customers – report that the takeover of their bank has negatively affected their level of satisfaction. Retail banking expert Charis Palmer said the results reflected concerns from customers that the new parent of their bank would raise fees or move to offer less competitive rates.“There is a high level of cynicism among Australian bank customers right now, which means any move by the banks to take advantage of reduced competition will be met with the ire of their customers,” Mr Palmer said. “Banks that choose not to pass on interest rate cuts from the Reserve Bank could also be seen to be taking advantage of their increased market power.”The Retail Banking Review/CoreData poll found 57.1 per cent of those surveyed were concerned the merges/takeovers would result in less competitive interest rates (scored 7-10 on a 10 point scale), and 56.9 per cent felt it was likely the mergers/takeovers would result in increased fees.Nearly half, or 47.4 per cent, were concerned the mergers/takeovers would result in reduced competition, and 45.8 per cent thought the mergers would result in a lowering of service quality.

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