Doing it tough financially?
Banks understand financial difficulty can happen to anyone and work to identify solutions appropriate to each customer’s circumstances.
Many customers may be worried about approaching their bank if they encounter difficulties, but banks encourage customers to contact them as soon as possible if they think they are unable to meet their financial obligations. This will allow banks to work with customers to find a solution and prevent the situation from deteriorating further.
There are many reasons why a customer may experience problems making repayments on their home loan or their credit card, including a loss of their job or reduction in working hours. Illness or injury, or a relationship breakdown can also cause money troubles.
The ABA's financial hardship package consists of:
- Industry guideline on financial hardship - updated in November 2016, this provides practical guidance on how banks can support customers in ways that meet and, in some areas, exceed their existing legal and Code of Banking Practice obligations.
- The guideline outlines a framework for banks that balances standardised access to financial hardship assistance with the need for flexibility when responding to customers’ individual circumstances. It includes standardised forms, developed in consultation with Financial Counselling Australia, to simplify processes for financial counsellors acting on behalf of customers. The forms include a Statement of Financial Position and Financial Counsellor Authorisation Form.
- The guideline covers how banks can promote greater awareness of the hardship assistance and support they offer through branch disclosure and the training provided to their staff, particularly their specialist teams set up to work with customers experiencing financial difficulty.
- Consumer fact sheet on financial hardship – this fact sheet provides consumers with information about financial hardship, including the options available and the steps involved in seeking hardship assistance.
- A list of phone numbers for the financial hardship teams at each bank.
The package not only assists banks meet their legal obligations and the provisions in the 2013 Code of Banking Practice, but also to go beyond these obligations and reflect industry commitments to promote best practice across the banking industry.