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3 December 2021
The Australian Banking Association (ABA) has today welcomed the release of the Final Report of the Independent Review of the Banking Code of Practice 2021, conducted by Mike Callaghan AM PSM.
Mr Callaghan’s deliberations were assisted by a Consumer Advisory Panel, comprising Alexi Boyd, CEO Council of Small Business Organisations (COSBOA), Tom Abourisk, Consumer Action Law Centre and Drew MacRae, Financial Rights Legal Centre.
Anna Bligh, Chief Executive Officer at the ABA, thanked Mr Callaghan and the Committee and said banks remained committed to further improving the Code for the benefit of Australian customers.
“Firstly, I would like to thank Mike Callaghan and the Committee for this comprehensive review of the Code to ensure it remains fit for purpose in a time of rapid change for the banking industry,” Ms Bligh said.
Ms Bligh also thanked the many individuals and organisations who took the time to make submissions to the Review.
“This has been a thorough and transparent process and it has been encouraging to see the high levels of interest and engagement in the Banking Code.”
“The ABA Banking Code has improved in recent years. Consumer benefits have been extended, particularly for vulnerable customers”Mike Callaghan AM PSM
“Customers remain at the centre of everything banks do and this triennial review ensures that no matter the economic, policy or regulatory shifts we face, the enforceable Banking Code stays central to the bank-customer relationship.”
The last three years have brought major change to the industry, not just from the wave of new laws and regulation that followed the Royal Commission but from the rapid take up of digital banking services and the changes that customers are starting to see from the commencement of Open Banking in Australia.
Out of some unforeseen circumstances of the pandemic one positive change for customers is the shift in the way banks assist their customers in financial hardship.
“As a result of all this change, it is no surprise to see a list of 116 comprehensive recommendations and we look forward to reviewing these in depth,” she said.
Mike Callaghan said the Code continues to benefit customers and should be seen by the public as a commitment to deliver high standards for customers.
“The ABA Banking Code has improved in recent years. Consumer benefits have been extended, particularly for vulnerable customers,” Mr Callaghan said.
“The Code should be viewed as the commitment by ABA member banks to deliver the high standard of banking services expected by all customers and the Australian community,” he said.
All retail-facing ABA member banks have subscribed to the Code of Practice, which is reviewed and approved by ASIC. The ABA will now consider the recommendations and begin to draft a new Code.
The ABA will review in detail the recommendations before responding. The final Banking Code of Practice Review Report can be downloaded here.
The ABA has called upon Federal and State Australian governments to work together to combat the ongoing problem of elder financial abuse.