Clicks not bricks

Clicks not bricks

So many banks, credit unions and building societies seem to compete with each other over the number of branches they have but I am not convinced this approach is what all customers want.

It is true, customers expect personalised service and superior customer care from their lender but the statistics show they don’t necessarily want to go into a branch to get it.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics, 79 percent of homes have internet access and 64 percent of users manage their money online. Roy Morgan Research found in an average four week period, 11.2 million of us over the age of 14 used internet banking. Of this figure, approximately five million accessed their lender on a mobile device.

This movement towards managing money online has effects that are trickling down through the finance sector with some interesting results. APRA statistics show banks, building societies and credit unions collectively closed 130 branches last year. These closures now happen quietly in response to reduced customer visits. The days of the community protest at branch closures seem to be over as more and more Australians access their money 24 x 7.

Who can say why those branch closures happened? It may have been the result of cost cutting due to tough times or consolidation of sites after merging with another lender. Most likely, with a range of choices and busy lives, it is due to too few customers walking through the door. And more people are voting with their mouse and applying online for their credit cards, investment accounts, and their home loan.

Using the Big Four as a yardstick, Roy Morgan Research found 56 percent of customers used online banking while less than a third visited a branch in a four-week survey period.

Roy Morgan has concluded online banking is also behind slight increases in reports of customer satisfaction with their bank. When the numbers are crunched, customers who say they are satisfied with their bank’s online banking service outweigh those who say they are satisfied with the bank overall, by 10 percent.

At loans.com.au we have built our business on our understanding of the need to fit managing your money into your busy life. By offering an online only presence we are available wherever you are with extended business hours and experienced lenders ready to help you with live chat, Skype or by phone in our Brisbane call centre.

And another thing… the savings we make by not having a branch network to maintain, we can pass on to our customers with one of the lowest interest rates on the market. Canstar and Money Magazine have consistently recognised loans.com.au for being very competitive when it comes to interest rates. In fact, Money Magazine awarded us Best of the Best Cheapest Home Loan award in December 2013 and Canstar gave us a five-star rating for outstanding value.

Give us a call and see if we can give you a better deal.

By Marie Mortimer. You can follow Marie on Google+

Image credit: arinas74

New Year's resolutions

New Year's resolutions

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to go on a diet? Or put your budget on a diet? You had goals of fitting into that pair of jeans that you have been holding onto, or saving for a home deposit by cutting out some of those unnecessary shopping trips. Pledges of healthier living or saving money account for a high proportion of all resolutions for the New Year and by this time of year, for many of us, they were given up for dead weeks ago.

You know how it goes. You wake up on January 1 with the best of intentions to get some exercise, eat less junk and save more money. You drink some water, go for a walk and think about organising a budget. You toss a salad and download a movie instead of going to the cinema. You don’t make popcorn. You drink some more water.

Over the coming days you try to ignore the caffeine withdrawal headache and get to bed on time. You wake up early and fit in a walk before work. Soon though, that sweet afternoon snack sneaks back into your diet and you find yourself stopping at a cafĂ© a couple of mornings a week for the coffee you didn’t have time to make at home because you slept in. The clever budgeting you did that had you saving $50 a week towards the amount you need for a deposit, is getting harder to stick to as the weeks go by and the new season’s fashions hit the shops.

So we find ourselves in March telling stories about how we have made some headway even if our resolve has weakened. It’s what happens to all of us every year, right?

But is now the time to break the trend and to really resolve your resolutions? Because if you don’t feel any better or you are no closer to your financial goals you haven’t really achieved what you set out to do. But don’t give up, it's not too late! You are closer to owning your own home merely for having taken those first steps. It's time to stand back and regroup.

Take stock of those elements you have been able to successfully bring into your routine and build on them. The key to success is to be realistic about what you will be able to maintain as a long term change to your lifestyle. Track your spending again by writing down everything you spend in a day and set some targets to get back on course. A small step forward is still a step forward and seeing your savings grow is a good motivator.

Building your bank balance and setting up a healthy savings habit is not as tricky as it sounds. Remember, little expenses add up and it pays to take note of where your money is going. Buying a coffee every day can add up to more than $800 a year. A muffin to go with it? $500. Do you buy lunch at work? You are probably spending about $2,500. A magazine every few days? $500. Takeaway food a couple of times a week? $2,000. Just by making a few decisions about non-essential spending has saved you more than $7,000 over 12 months.

Oh, and don’t touch that snooze button! Enjoy your walk.

By Marie Mortimer. You can follow Marie on Google+

Image credit: One Way Stock

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