It was compulsory for all children enrolling at my school in the 1950's to open a savings account with the State Savings Bank of Victoria.
Five shillings opening deposit, and one shilling a month provided me with a savings ethic, and the exciting prospect of getting some extra pennies paid as interest at the end of the year.
We grew to trust the institution as much as the people in my small town respected the manager, a long time resident who was active in community affairs.
Just before I got my first job at age 19, my dad took me to his bank, where, over a friendly chat with the manager in his office, a new cheque account was opened for me. They made me feel like I was part of something special.
A partner whom I could trust for a sound financial future.
So what the hell has happened in the last 40 years?
Banking in Australia today, from a small customers point of view is a disgrace.
There are only 4 major players, and who knows what incestuous commercial relationships occur between them to further reduce competitiveness.
Big banks are no longer friendly places for small depositors.
Each month, mine pays me 1 cent interest, then steals $5 from me in "charges" because I had the temerity to entrust my hard earned money to them for safekeeping, and generously giving them the right to use my money temporarily for their own profit making purposes.
And make profit they certainly do. Billions every year.
And what do I get?
There is, however, a little ray of sunshine for whom I will happily provide an advertisement.
The Bendigo Bank.
From its origins in small town Victoria it is spreading across the nation. With active community support they are re-introducing banking services to the little towns which the greedy Big4 abandoned years ago for reasons of unprofitability.
The "old bank" in my town has a staff of surly middle aged women who look down their long noses, with a glint of fiscal superiority in their eyes, at this minor contributor and complain about the coin I bring in, or the folds I have in the plastic bank notes.
They take great delight in telling me that only after accumulating $10,000 should I ever expect their woeful 1 cent/month to be increased to a significantly higher level.
Across the road at the Bendigo Bank, even though I only visit once every couple of months, the smiling staff, (including nice middle aged women …. there,…that should effectively disarm anyone who was going to shoot me down for being sexist and ageist ), all know my name and chat about life and family whilst processing the transaction.
They also, courteously, phone me at home whenever a new account, which might be advantageous to me, becomes available.
I know I should completely abandon the old bank, but it would almost seem like dishonoring the memory of my dad.
I, for better or worse, was raised with some principle of loyalty, and I would hope it remains with me.
The banks seem to have lost theirs somewhere along the way.
The four major banks are an utter disgrace to the memory and principles of their founding fathers.
OK. I'm all done now. Purged. I feel better again.