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Helping students get smart with money

Helping students get smart with money

Victoria University students have played a key role in designing a new tertiary student banking package which is being launched as part of orientation activities.

Matt Barnes, who completed a Bachelor of Commerce with Honours in Marketing at Victoria in 2013, has worked on the project for The Co-operative Bank as part of Victoria’s Summer Research Scholarships programme, with academic supervision provided by staff from Victoria’s School of Marketing and International Business.

Now in its fifth year, the programme sees Victoria partner with companies, government agencies and professional groups to help fund a research placement for some of its top performing students, while also helping organisations tackle research projects they want carried out.

As part of his work in helping to design a student-friendly package, Matt convened a focus group of other students from Victoria to find out more about how they manage their finances and what they want from their bank.

“It was interesting to see that there are gaps in some students’ knowledge about controlling their finances,” says Matt. “A number of them didn’t know the extent of the fees they pay, how the services they get compare to what’s offered to other customers or how they go about switching banks.”

As well as gathering feedback from people who might sign up for the package, Matt had to explore ways in which The Co-operative Bank could compete with bigger players in the tertiary student segment of the market.

The package developed, which will be available nationally but introduced at the University of Canterbury first, is designed to help students manage their money through the ups and downs of a university year.

“What students tell us is that their finances are cyclical—at the start of the year they usually have funds in their account from summer employment but that changes as the year progresses,” says Matt.

“What we are doing, which is a point of difference, is offering a high interest savings account which gives students a better return in the up parts of the cycle.”

Grant Pritchard, Deposits Portfolio Manager for The Co-operative Bank, says using Victoria’s summer research programme gave the bank a fresh perspective.

“As well as bringing new ideas, the rapport Matt was able to create with the focus group of other students was priceless. He got much more out of that group than our staff or even a professional facilitator could have.”

Matt says one of the best things about his involvement in the project was the opportunity to put what he had learned at university into practise.

“I did my Honours dissertation on retail banking so it was a perfect opening for me. Overall, it’s been a great experience to be involved in something that has been made for students with the help of other students.”


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