Patrick Gower hits out at banks' 'obscene profits' as Kiwis increasingly complain about delays getting financial help

Patrick Gower has hit out at banks making "obscene profits" as the number of complaints from Kiwis facing delays getting financial help increases.

The Newshub journalist said there's no excuse for banks, especially Australian-owned ones in New Zealand, to not help Kiwis out in a time of need.

It comes as complaints to Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden more than doubled in the last three months of 2022, with many relating to delays customers experience when asking banks for help.

"We have received an increase in complaints about hardship-related matters," she told The Project.

"We suspect it's related to the cost of living increases, relationship breakdowns, changes in people's employment and illnesses, as a general rule."

Many homeowners who are losing sleep over their bills are even calling helplines in the middle of the night.

"Understandably, when someone is struggling financially they are highly stressed, so it's absolutely critical that banks and other lenders consider and carefully respond to those requests," Sladden said.

"This is a real opportunity for the financial sector to step up and help New Zealanders."

Responding to this, Gower said banks need to step up.

"Let's face it, there's no excuse for banks, particularly the Australian-owned banks in New Zealand, to not give all of these ordinary Kiwis out there [in the audience] and out there watching the best service possible," he said as guest host on The Project on Tuesday.

"They make obscene profits and if Kiwis need help, even the most minute level of it, the banks should offer it. They need to do their bloody job."

Some banks made billions of dollars in profit last year, including ANZ ($2.3 billion), ASB ($1.47 billion), BNZ ($1.4 billion), and Westpac ($1 billion).

The large profits banks are making could be a sign they're not taking enough risk, a leading economist said late last year, and aren't pushing capital out into the general economy,

Watch Patrick Gower on The Project above.