The best of ...

Jan 25, 2011

In Australia, we are blessed with a number of high quality financial institutions.  I am always asked "where should I put my money?"  So here are some of the best financial products going around right now:

Best Banks

Australia has four of the world's top twenty banks according to rating agencies such as Moody's, S & P and Fitch.  Their quality really helped save our bacon during the GFC - even if we think they are all bloodsuckers for raising interest rates! 

Whilst security of funds is crucial, excellent customer service is also very important.  Rating company CANNEX named ANZ as Australia's number one for customer satisfaction across various criteria including branches, call centres, problem solving ability, innovation, friendliness and the crucial "wow" factor. 

This high level of professional service, coupled with an outstanding suite of banking products, were the reasons why Canstar Blue also named ANZ as the institution that offers Australia's best value for meeting the needs of small businesses.

Best Online Banking Accounts

With the demise of branches coupled with life simply getting busier for us all, online and mobile banking has become the sophisticated and convenient way of accessing finances that many of us can't live without.  CBA was recently named as CANNEX's Best Online Banking Award based on its functionality, security and transactional capabilities.

Best Savings Accounts

CANNEX recently awarded St George with the Best Value Australia - Savings award.  The award is given to the institution that they believe has offered consistently high rates and impressive products across online savings, cash management accounts and term deposits. 

UBank, the online arm of NAB, has also shown a good track record for consistently providing high interest rates.  Suncorp offers the best value in the area of term deposits. 

Ultimately it is your decision which accounts to choose, but just remember not to automatically go to the account that pays the highest rate as there may be higher risk involved.

Best Home Loans

The banks have copped a lot of criticism over the past year as they increased their rates by more than the RBA rises but there are some good home loans about. 

NAB's Tailored Choice Package has been a star performer for those wanting a variety of services.  This package offers a low home loan interest rate, no monthly service or transaction fees as well as a discount on life insurance policies and higher rates for term deposits.

ANZ is great for first home buyers based on the full range of educational support, product features, flexibility of offerings and ease of access to its home loan people.

Amongst the non-banks, Pacific Mortgage Group has a really low variable loan rate yet they are still able to provide great flexibility options with borrowing up to 90%, free unlimited redraws and loans as little as $50,000.

Best Personal Loans

Credit unions and building societies consistently have lower interest rates than the traditional banks when it comes to personal loans.  If you are looking for a personal loan for a holiday or to consolidate debt then First Option Credit Union could be right for you with their low interest rates and no fees. 

The car loan market is a very competitive which means good news for those looking for flexibility.  Fees and penalties for early repayment are just as important as comparing interest rates.  Community First Credit Union offers a very attractive rate for environmental friendly car purchases.

Best Super Fund

Superannuation fund managers have been under a lot of scrutiny in recent years as returns nosedived.  A lot of emphasis has been placed on fees and charges as much as investment performance as they determine how much you will have in retirement.  

According to superannuation research specialist SuperRatings, AustralianSuper is the best super fund manager currently in Australia.  Not only has their investment performance been above the industry average for the past ten years, its annual fees are almost half the average as well.  AustralianSuper also has a user-friendly website and quality insurance options.  

Remember that when reviewing investment performance, you should always compare it to your own personal tolerance to risk.  Don't go chasing the highest returns or you might be disappointed.

Best Credit Cards

There is no such thing as the best credit card to have.  They are all bad with some just worse than others.  Everyone knows how I feel about credit cards - they are the devil.  Unfortunately with the national credit card debt currently sitting at a record $48 billion, we need to find credit cards which offer low fees and low interest rates - not at 20%.  BankWest and Credit Union SA are the best options here.  Don't worry about the amount of points that you can earn.  Just focus on paying off that debt.

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Tags: Financial Planning

Author: Mr Taxman


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