Oct 13, 2017

When banks stopped educating and started manipulating Australian kids

CBA teaching schoolyards about credit could be leading generations of Australians to financial illiteracy writes Douglas Ross.

The Commonwealth Bank practices “cradle-to-grave banking".

Those were the words of financial councillor, Pam Mutton, in a 2015 Senate inquiry into credit card interest rates.

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11 thoughts on “When banks stopped educating and started manipulating Australian kids

  1. lykurgus

    “cradle-to-grave banking”… well that doesn’t sound the least bit creepy and stalkerish. The Dollarmites always did give me the willies (and my background is microbiology).

    1. Bill Hilliger

      The banks have learned from religions.

  2. Dog's Breakfast

    Good article. The last thing that the banking industry wants is a financially literate populace. Much of their staggering revenues would be lost if everyone was literate. They do nothing to dispel the ignorance because that doesn’t help them, it would only help people and society.

    It’s an evil business, mostly.

  3. Jack Robertson

    Yeah, great. Sod you too mate!

    So…I’m the Dollarmite banking scheme parent at my son’s public school. I do the (modest) running of the kids’ weekly tooth fairy dough banking. Please note that: the parental Dollarmite supervisor. Ie an ‘adult’ in the scheme that in part helps teach our kids financial literacy. Teachers are adults too. Bankers are adults too. Many are parents. Many were kids once. True!

    Sorry, I get the good intentions but this article (and the other lemony couple I’ve seen on Dollarmites lately, it must be an Op Ed ‘thing’ just now, yay) just bears no real relation to what the scheme actually is, or wants to be, how it works in practice, what it hopes to achieve. It’s not a huge deal, for starters. Voluntary, by no means universally taken up by all schools, and fairly sparsely subscribed in those where it is. It’s a mere adjunct to the ‘CBA Youthsaver’ account, opened/maintained by kids/parents/guardians independent of schools. It’s dollar modest, well overseen (ie by a volunteer banking parent), and I think a very good way precisely to help teach kids about the virtue of regular SAVING – again, precisely so they become financially proactive and autonomous, and – precisely – thus more likely to AVOID the credit/debt trap later in life you talk about.

    Honestly. What do you think parents and teachers do every day? Sit stupidly about conjuring up new ways to be negligent/shit parents? Give us a break. Parents, I mean. Teachers, too. We’re not morons. We do keep an eye out for our brats too, you know. Do you reckon we might be allowed to just…get on with quietly trying to raise them – while helping our over-worked and under-funded public teachers run our schools – without battalions of professionalised ‘info-knowledge-policy’ opportunists (all trying to build a career in IKP work) lecturing us about the myriad ways we’re doing it wrong? We – parents, teachers – apparently can’t be trusted to teach our kids about anything much now without some specialist expert/rules riding shotgun. Not money, not sex, not advertising, or racism, or sexism, homophobia, gender politics, personal identity, Australian history, political bias, death, illness, poverty, pain…nope, gotta get the IKP pro’s in. Get the consultants in. Get the wonks in. Devise a protocol. Workshop strategies. Create a helpline. Get the Op Ed writers onto it. Have a public debate.


    If info-knowledge-policy types want to make our public schools better, how about this: less endless externally-imposed policy prescriptions, analyses, opinions, transplanted sociology programs, visiting experts, consultant speeches, button/ribbon/flag/awareness days…less of all that. And just more hands on deck in the banal unsung daily volunteer stuff. Like School Banking. Like…you know, show up to help run the bloody fete for once. Volunteer for kids’ remedial reading. Rake the long jump pit on athletics day.

    The average P&C gets a few hundred CBA bucks a year off the Dollarmites scheme. The kids learn a bit about managing their own gold coins, about saving and filling in a deposit slip and the magic of compound interest. The pleasing, confidence-building agency in delayed gratification…all that. The CBA gets a bit of brand visibility. That’s about it.

    There is no story here. If you guys keep trying to scuff one up out of anti big bank thin air then no doubt the CBA will just eventually walk from our schools – because there ain’t nuthin’ much in it for them. And maybe a few more kids than already do will dip out on any kind of exposure to money stuff (under adult supervision) before they really are debt bait. Think it’s pretty shabby to go CBA just for offering P&C’s/parents access to this scheme. But it’s also a wee bit offensive to the modest volunteer hours I and all the other banking volunteer ‘adults’ in the chain put in. Nobody likes being called a corporate dupe/stooge!

    It’s a good, modest scheme imho. Leave it alone, can you?

  4. zut alors

    Whaaaat….the CBA pays commission for each captured student?!

    1. Jack Robertson

      Here’s an idea, morally self-righteous anonymous internet avatar on your tyre-kicking tea break. Go and do some reading for yourself:

      It’s transparent and it’s benign and it’s parentally participatory, it’s been operating in one form or another for about 85 odd years, and our kids seem to have coped just fine.

      Please: don’t screw this scheme up. The Choice campaign which is driving these Op Eds – and which like all IKP self-perpetuating bullshit work (thank you Rundle) is as much about Choice’s own branding/visibility/self-justification as our poor vulnerable kiddies’ fiscal futures – is just the kind of confected outrage crap that, sadly, gets politicians jumping (at shadows) these days.

      I’m no fan of big banks but this is just a useful, a good scheme. It’s not big dough we’re talking about, it’s not remotely sinister. I run it at our school. It fucks me off to have it implied we’re stoopidly doing the bidding of The Man.

      These aren’t the ‘droids you’re looking for, Crikerians. You can go about your business. Move along. Please!

      1. Matt

        If you think that CommBank propaganda about the CommBank scheme is “doing your reading”, then you’re stupider than I thought. And I already thought you were quite stupid, based on your posts.

        1. Jack Robertson

          Another anonymous waste of space.

          I’ll spend three hours tomorrow doing the school banking, which in a small way helps a few kids develop financial literacy. How about you ‘Matt’? Read another website, will you? Make another anonymous comment?

          Awesome! That’ll really show them big bank propagandists…!! Bring on the revolution Comrade! One mouse lick at a time, etc etc.

  5. [email protected]

    Brilliant piece of journalism. Sir Douglas Ross you deserve a knighthood. I usually approach any article re financial industry with the view that I expect Queen Elizabeth to understand it. After reading the 21 paragraphs I am satisfied that she is able to.

    1. [email protected]

      The blockchain cannot come quick enough!

  6. John Hall

    This seems to be a storm in a teacup article. Yawn.

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