Archive for the ‘Bank Accounts’ Category

Longer, But Better Days: Australians Adopt British Work-Life Balance

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Changing Office CultureShowering at the office? Shopping online during the day? Facebook and Twitter time?

It seems that Aussies have begun adopting a British work-life culture that extends far beyond normal office-hours, but they seem just fine with it!

UK-based company Mozy has found that the working day has extended to 12 hours as employees keep tabs on email and work accounts from 7am in the morning until 7pm in the evening.

But with that comes more flexibility, as workers have more freedom to perform ablutions at the office, do their shopping online, conduct their finances online, or spend time on social networks.

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Comment: Ents and Entrapment

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Ents & Entrapment

In the 1999 film Entrapment, Catherine Zeta-Jones plots to steal $8 billion. She’s negotiating the help of genius partner-in-crime, Sean Connery, who reasons for his equal share.

“What can you do with $7 billion that you can’t do with 4?”

“Hold the record. Alone”.

One might wager that this same self-adulation has consumed the boardrooms of Australian banks in recent years.

A move by St. George Bank to lower lending rates on 1-year, 2-year and 3-year fixed-rate home loans must be deemed admirable in a climate where banks have cried poverty like a broken record despite – ironically – record-breaking profits.

But it should equally ensure that the wool that has constantly been pulled over consumers’ eyes is, at last, fully removed.

Read more at Which4U

Concerns Mount for Australian Banks

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Consumers might have been forgiven for thinking that a timely boost was set to come their way in time for Christmas.

It is widely predicted that central interest rates, which had remained untouched since April 2009, will fall for the second consecutive month when the Federal Bank’s committee convenes next week for the final time in 2011.

But the untimely downgrading of Australian banks by credit ratings agencies this week has put a new complexion on the immediate forecast for bank funding, irrespective of whether a central rate cut is announced or not. Consumers are set to lose out when they may have expected to benefit.

Downgrading

Standard & Poor’s have downgraded a number of major banks worldwide, including Barclays, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, UBS in Switzerland and the Bank of America. In Australia, the Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, National Australia Bank and Westpac all fell by one grade to AA[-], the agency’s fourth-highest rating. Macquarie Group was cut by two levels to BBB, a grade which anticipates a level of risk from adverse economic conditions.

What these reductions do is heighten insecurity for banks to lend to one another. This, in turn, raises the cost of lending as banks insure themselves from that elevated level of risk.

Such costs will no doubt be absorbed by consumers through less competitive savings and loan rates. A central interest rate cut may prove welcome only insofar as it prevents loan rates from rising.

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Fee-Driven Banking Products ‘Taken to Task’

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Are we being taken for fools on the essential banking products that we choose?

An interesting parallel has emerged between Australia and the UK in the world of personal finance: an enquiry into value for money on fee-driven banking products.

Australia: Credit Card Fees

About half of all Australian credit card holders are getting no value from their credit card rewards because of fees, it was reported last week. In most cases, annual fees are outweighing the value of rewards such as air-miles, and only very high levels of spending – roughly $60,000 per year – could make such benefits count.

Contrast this with the average annual Australian credit card spend of $17,000, which itself is artificially heightened by very high spenders, and we see the degree to which fees outstrip potential rewards.

A monthly spend of $1,000 could see fees exceed potential benefits by as much as a third in value even before interest is factored in.

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