Getting away from the Big 4 (err, 5) Banks



I’ve recently been considering the idea of “getting out” of CBA, and after the Govt’s proposed tax on the “Big 5” (ANZ, CBA, NAB, Westpac and Macquarie), not to mention their response to that proposal (ie “We’ll make the customers pay rather than reduce profits”), and an article I just read about how back in 08-09 the Govt backed the Big 5, helping to bolster their profits… I’m ready to make the change!

I have half my super with “Colonial” (ie CBA), along with my debit Mastercard and “savings” (ie overdraft). The Super is easy - I’ll move it to join the other “half”… But as for the actual banking side of things… my first thoughts are all in fact owned by the Big 5:

Bank of Melbourne - owned by Westpac
Bank of Queensland - Independent
Bank SA - owned by Westpac
Bank West - owned by CBA
St George - owned by Westpac

Ideally I need someone with a branch here in Geelong… which rules out my former banking and insurance buddy, Suncorp (who at least are not linked to the Big 5). That pretty much just leaves:

Bank of Queensland (BOQ)
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank

Anyone have any feedback on either of them? Or other suggestions? Anyone else looking at leaving too?




Have you considered a Credit Union ? Is there one with a branch in Geelong.


Is a branch essential?

If not, ING Direct. It’s mostly fee-free banking.


I’m going to open an Account with Bendigo Bank, although part (but not all) of that is because I’ve recently shifted to Maldon and the Bendigo Bank (community branch) is the only bank in Maldon since the Commonwealth closed some years back. The community branches are locally owned and operated and some of the profits go back into the local community for the provision of grants (Maldon/Baringhup for example has a community bus and money has also been donated to various local organizations.

I quote from an article comparing regional banks to the majors
What makes Bendigo & Adelaide Bank (BEN) unique, is its community branch distribution model, which focuses on a community banking network in locations that the majors have neglected, or vacated; in a relationship that sees the local communities and Bendigo Bank share the profits.

And Choice like them (for what that’s worth).


ING (not that different from the big four) has some unethical investments, including companies involved in the global arms trade/similar…


I do all my personal, business and SMSF banking with the local credit union. This includes my home loan. They rock.

And they usually fare much better with regard to ethical investments too, which is very important. If you’re not investing ethically, you are buying death, either through tobacco, or, more likely, arms, or both plus fossil fuels. It’s a nasty business.


Bendigo and Adelaide bank have recently announced this (they already had a position against tobacco and arms investments).

Also I quote…
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank is part of the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance, comprising 14 local governments, businesses and community organisations. The alliance is playing a key role in creating sustainable, climate-aware communities and profitable, climate-friendly economies.


Yep, good on them. Apart from anything else, it’s good business.


Mmm, some good food for thought. Hadn’t considered the ethical side of things - will check that out too (and for my Super).

I hadn’t considered a Credit Union… seem to recall a few folding when I was a kid which kinda put me off the idea of them in general, though I know there’s a few out there that aren’t exactly tiny or probably all that “risky”.

As for having a local branch - I rarely need to go into a branch, but I’d rather have the option than solely dealing with people on the phone.


CUA, been with them for 12+ years


I’d suggest a major aim should be to get away from an institution that wants to make a profit for shareholders, and go to one where the profit is shared by the account holders. Most of my banking has been done with the Queensland Teachers Credit Union (now Queensland Teachers Mutual Bank, and at present in the middle of joining with RACQ) for over forty years, and I couldn’t be happier with their service. QTMB would be problematical in Victoria; Heritage is another mutual bank.
Why anyone sticks with the big banks truly confounds me. A pox on their houses, I say.
(Perhaps one day, the Commonwealth government could set up a government owned (and therefore all-Australians owned) bank to provide proper competition with the big ones. We could call it, um, the Commonwealth Bank . . .)


There are reasons to go with a bank rather than a credit union, generally credit unions don’t do much small business finance.

Even smaller banks (like Bendigo) tend to concentrate on housing finance and their small business finance options aren’t as attractive in cost and availability.


There’s also ME Bank —


Understood, Geoff, but I think most of the discussion here is in regard to one’s own or family banking, rather than small business.



Understood, but in my case my own banking includes and has to be linked with my small business banking (which I realize isn’t the case for most).

Hence my earlier comment about ‘opening an account with the Bendigo Bank’ rather than ‘shifting my banking’ because to be honest that isn’t possible (they don’t offer all the banking products I need).


I had a reply from Bendigo regarding an overdraft, basically telling me to visit a branch to discuss the matter, as it’s a “specialist” product…

Back when I was a student, I ended up with around $13k of c/card debt, and was all too happy to see the card gone when the chance arose. When CBA then later offered me an overdraft… yes, “kinda” the same thing to many degrees especially as I use a debit Mastercard linked to the overdraft account… But psychologically, parsecs apart.

I’m thinking I’m going to have to get some counselling on my c/card issues…


We moved to ME bank. No fees. Good interest rates. We have also opened an ING account for Apple Pay. Again, no fees. They are both really easy to deal with.