Millions of Aussies are switching banks. 2.8 million Australians switched to new banks or financial providers for their home loans, credit cards and transaction accounts in the last year according to new research from the Australian Bankers Association. “Whether you are looking for a new home loan, a credit card or a transaction account, competition for a customer’s business is fiercer than it has ever been,” said ABA CEO Anna Bligh. Ms Bligh said 15 per cent of everyday transaction account holders, 10 per cent of credit card holders and 5 per cent of mortgage holders have switched banks in the last 12 months. AMP Bank will merge with AMP’s wealth management business to create a single entity known as AMP Australia. AMP Bank’s CEO Sally Bruce will step down and the new boss of AMP Australia will be Rod Finch, the current chief of the AMP wealth management business. “Bringing together our bank and wealth management teams in Australia will drive a more integrated organisation better able to pursue the significant opportunity we see in providing more holistic wealth services for our clients,” said Francesco De Ferrari, AMP chief executive. Most Aussies are happy with their bank The Australian Bankers Association says most Australians are happy with their bank and are able to change banks easily to get a better deal if they are not satisfied. “Most customers are satisfied with their bank,” said Anna Bligh, CEO of the ABA. “79 per cent of everyday transaction, 75 per cent of credit card and 67 per cent of mortgage owners say they are ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’ with their providers. “The message to all Australians is if you aren’t satisfied with your home loan, credit card or other product it pays to shop around to get the best deal possible,” she said. What are the most important features of a mortgage? 23 per cent of adult Australians are ‘actively searching’ for a mortgage according to new research from the Australian Bankers Association. 90 per cent of these people ranked price, that is interest rates, fees and discounts as either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ considerations in choosing a home loan. 90 per cent said the ability to make additional repayments was ‘very important’ or ‘important’ when it came to their choice of mortgage. 84 per cent said the amount they could get approved for was important or very important. Mortgage offset, customer service, app, website and branches were other major considerations for people looking for a home loan. Aussies are investing and refinancing Investors and refinancers are driving growth in the home loan market. Lending to households has picked up in recent months according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures. New lending commitments for owner occupier dwellings rose 1.9 per cent to $13.5 billion in August (excluding refinancing). Refinancing of mortgages was up 7.7 per cent to $10.1 billion in August. New investor mortgage sales rose 5.7 per cent to $4.9 billion in August. New home construction trending down. The value of residential building fell 2.9 per cent in August and has fallen for the last six months, according to new data released this week from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Over the last 12 months, total private house construction is down almost 16 per cent. Apartments are down 39 per cent. In total there was 12,864 dwellings commenced in August, including 4,427 apartments.