24 November 2016
Sydney, 24 November 2016: The Australian Bankers’ Association has today acknowledged the comprehensive House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics’ report from its inquiry into the four major banks.
ABA Chief Executive Steven Münchenberg said Australia’s banks were committed to protecting consumer interests, increasing transparency and accountability, and building trust and confidence in banks.
“Consumers are demanding action now, and we are responding,” he said.
“The industry is making major changes that address concerns about how bank staff are rewarded, the protection of whistleblowers, the handling of customer complaints and dealing with poor conduct. We are doing this with independent oversight.
“Further reforms are being introduced by the Federal Government, including higher standards for financial advisers and greater powers and resourcing for ASIC. We support these changes.
“Many of the committee’s recommendations build upon reforms already underway to make banking better for all Australians.
“Banks are improving the way they handle customer complaints by appointing dedicated customer advocates to ensure complaints are appropriately escalated and responded to within specified timeframes.
“If customers are not satisfied with how their bank handles a complaint, we agree it should be easier to get help externally. The ABA supports having a one-stop-shop to handle disputes or direct people where to go.”
Mr Münchenberg said the banking industry had consistently supported reasonable measures to enhance competition.
“Australia’s financial services industry is competitive. Consumers can choose from 150 APRA-regulated providers, 3,600 home loan products and 190 credit cards.
“Banks recognise the importance to customers of being able to access their data so they can get the most out of their financial products and services. But this has to be balanced with protecting customers’ privacy and the security of their financial information,” he said.
The industry will examine the committee’s recommendations in detail and await the Government’s formal response to the report.
Contact: Stephanie Arena 0477 470 677 or Nic Frankham 0435 963 913
Access to credit opens up opportunities and fulfills aspirations. Getting it right requires the right balance between consumer protections and the flow of credit.
Interviewed by AM’s Peter Ryan, ABA CEO Anna Bligh talked about the substantial drop in loan deferrals since their peak during the pandemic, falling from 900,000 to 300,000.