Banking in Australia differs in a few key ways from banking in the UK. The biggest difference is that Australians ordinarily keep two accounts; a savings account and a transaction account, the latter we'd know as a current account. The interest paid on the balance of a transaction account is virtually zero (like it used to be in Blighty) and in fact they're not shy of piling on the fees too. Watch out for accounts that offer only a certain number of free uses of other bank's cash machines per month.
Shopping around gets a better deal and some, particularly the International banks, offer single account banking. The advantage there is you will have to worry less about keeping only as much money as you need in a transaction account to maximise interest paid. There's no need to worry about shopping around right now, there's nothing to stop you from opening a transactional account with a major domestic bank (this gets you the cash cards, EFTPOS (what we'd know as debit cards) cards, cheques (though this often costs extra) so that's the sort of account you will need right away. Later on after shopping around you can find a home for your savings and it's not too difficult to shift your transactional account later too.
The major International banks have a very low branch presence across Victoria and those that do exist are generally in Melbourne CBD. However they agreements to use the domestic banks for regular banking functions. For example: Citibank customers can open regular local bank accounts and access these through NAB branches. In that respect things operate the same way as the online banks do in the UK with a minimal impact on convenience despite the lack of branches.
Major Australian BanksEdit
- Commonwealth Bank (You may hear Australians refer to this as Bastard Bank, this is due to a comedy series many years ago)
- National Australia Bank NAB for short
- Australia New Zealand Bank ANZ for short
Major International Banks with Melbourne BranchesEdit
- HSBC - Five branches in Melbourne - unknown which are consumer and which are corporate/wealth management
- Citibank - Two branches and a couple of corporate/wealth management
Opening accounts from abroadEdit
One way of opening an Australian bank account, whilst still in the UK, is visit your local branch of HSBC and speak to the manager about their international accounts. He can open you an Australian account, provide you with live, ready-to-use cheque books, credit and debit cards (with your usual credit limit) before you leave the UK. This account is free to use and operate, if you meet certain conditions; if you dont, there is a charge.
Anecdotally, having read and tried the above approach one BritVic called a UK local HSBC branch and was passed to a larger one, then on to phone to HSBC HQ. International services appear to be best conducted via the web and there's probably no major enticement to use HSBC in Australia unless you're an existing customer. Conversely, another large International Citibank operates in Australia and offers fairly competitive banking services (as opposed to HSBC it could be argued). Like all Australian banks, you wont be able to open up an account without an Australian address.
However you don't actually need to open a Citibank account to engage the services of a Personal Banker. Doing so can facilitate transferring of money into Australia including keeping money in UK Stirling if desired, without yet having an Australian address. Meaning it can be done UK side before arriving in Australia. Personal bankers generally require large sums of money to be involved in order to get involved but those typically seen with savings/sold house funds etc of most immigrants should prove sufficient. Other banks will also have personal bankers offering similar services. The trick is to get past the consumer facing aspect and request to talk to 'wealth management'.
The upshot of this approach is the new arrival having obtained an Australian address visits the bank where money has already been transfered ready for opening of live bank accounts with issuing of cards etc.
Useful Links and Contacts Edit
- HSBC 'Leaving the UK'
- Amit Arora (Male) - Personal Banker at 'Citigold' wealth management section of Citibank: firstname.lastname@example.org - (+613) 8643 9118
Opening an accountEdit
You will need:
- Proof of address
- Photo ID
- Tax file no.?
- Anything else?
- Starting funds?
How do I transfer money overEdit
The Australian for Pensions is Superannuation. See Superannuation
IN PROGRESS - John/Nod/Jacksoj
Please note thet the information in the following sections is based on personal and current Federal Requirements (2007) and should NOT be taken as any form of financial advice. If in doubt, readers are advised to take Professional Financial Advice to verify the information herein and the regulations currently in force in Australia and your current abode.
In Australia it is a requirement that at least 9% of your Salary/Wage is paid into Superannuation.
You will be asked by your employer as to which Super Fund you wish the mandatory 9% be paid. This is because Australian Residents have a choice, by law, over the Superannuation fund they invest in.
DON'T PANIC as they say. You will have a period of time in which to investigate differing Funds and decide which is for you. During this time your contributions will be held in a Holding Fund until you have nominated. I had Two months to nominate when I started Australian employment.
It may be advisable to enquire about the Default Fund used by your company as this may be a fund that offers low charges and higher returns for investors.
Superannuation funds operate in a similar manner to the U.K. Private Pension Schemes, whereby your contibutions are invested, usually on the stock market, in accordance with risk management. Thes risks are generaly classified as Low, Medium, and High risk options, many Super Funds offer a mix of these categories. You have the choice of how your contributions are allocated, these can be in as single risk category or spread over 2 or or more categories. You can also take the option of a Self Managed Fund.
In general, the younger you are the more you can Risk investing in higher risk categories as these may yield higher returns over the long term. If you're older, then investments can be moved to lower risk options to protect capital value.
Contributions made are taxed at a nominal rate of 15% on addition to your funds, and under current regulations this Deducted Contribution is tax free when your Suerannuation is taken on retirement.
- Low Risk Category
This category option is designed for people whose primary focus is on the security of their assets and who are willing to accept relatively modest investment growth in order to achieve this
- Medium Risk Category
This category option is designed for people who want a level of return over the medium term that is competitive with other balanced funds, and who accept that there will be some fluctuation of returns from year to year
- High Risk Category
This category option is designed for people who want higher growth over the medium to long term and who accept greater volatility of investment returns year to year, including the possibility of negative returns in some years.
- Self Managed Category
This category option is designed for people who want to control their own investement options and are willing to spend a lot of time studying the stock market and making thier own guesses on market movements. This is not an option for those who just want to invest and relax as it requires constant monitoring of investment options.
Most Supperannuation funds come with certain charges.
- Federal Tax on funds enetering superannuation - Unavoidable
- Management charges levied by the Superannuation comapany
- These may include
- entry fees
- Fund management fees
- Exit Fees
- These may include
Typically what are known as Industry Super Funds have the lowest fees, with no entry and exit charges and a low mangement fee. This means that more of your contibutions are working for you instead of the Superanuation Fund's shareholders.
Some Industry Super Funds
Transfering overseas pensionsEdit
Overseas Pensions can be transferred into Aaustralian Superannuation Schemes.
BE WARNED Under current regulations. Once a transfer has been transferred into Australian Supperannuation it can not be transferred out (assuming you are a permanent resident/citizen)
The implication of this is that you may have to be sure that you have moved to Australia for the long term prior to transferring your pension to an Australian Superannuation Fund. This doesn't mean that if you leave Australia your money would be lost it's just that if you live anywhere else, then you will be subjecting yourself to be a victim of fluctuating exchange rates between the Ausralian Dollar and the currecy of your country of abode.
There may be local regulations in force in your transferee coutntry that may place retrictions on your Pension transfer. One of these is the Qualifing Recognised Overseas Pension Schems (QROPS) regulations placed of transfers from U.K. based schemes. This regulation requires that Pension Transfers overseas from the U.K. be into one of the schemes recognised by the Inland Revenue QROPS Scemes otherwise a 40% Tax may be palced by the U.K. Government on your money. This is because money saved within U.K. pension schemes are in the majority money where no Tax has been paid, and as such a transfer into your Australian Super Fund will be as an undeducted Contribution.
Don't be fooled by a lot of finace compamies Transferring a pension is not difficult ! Unless you have complicated finacial arragements, it's just a case of a few 'phone calls, letter writing and form filling.
- Steps For Transfer.
- Find a host Superannuation Fund (QROPS Status if U.K. National)
- Get Transfer Statement form transferring fund
- Please note you may also be required to complete an additional from from the inland revenue if you are transferring Protected Rights. Basically stuff that was contracted-out-of-SERPS.
Death and superannuationEdit
In Australia your remaining Superannuation Fund is considered as part of your estate. Consider that you retire at 60 and set up your superannuation to pay $25,000 per annum. If you were to die at the age of, say 62, then the balance of your Superannuation fund can be then inherited by your beneficiaries on your death. This is a big difference to, say the UK system, where the Pension fund would be your beneficiary, unless you made specific arrangements to provide pensionable benefits to your spouse - Only.
Under the Australian system your remaining Super can be transferred to your children or even the local cat rescue centre !
Financial services recommendationsEdit