21 October 2016
Sydney, 21 October 2016: The Australian Bankers’ Association has welcomed today’s release of Mr Ian McPhee’s report which found banks have made good progress on a range of reforms in response to community concerns.
Mr McPhee stated in the report that it was encouraging to see the steps being taken by the industry within the first six months of the planned 18 month development of the various measures.
The report states it is just as encouraging to see the “initiative shown by some banks to take early steps to adopt industry positions, in some cases in advance of the development of the industry policies, to address the industry’s goals.”
The report goes on further to state that “it is apparent that the words of chief executives are being backed with actions.”
ABA Executive Director – Retail Policy Diane Tate said the banking industry was taking action now to better protect customers and was pleased that Mr McPhee had acknowledged the commitment of the banks to improve their performance.
“Banks have made good progress but recognise there is more to be done to make sure the initiatives are implemented successfully,” she said.
The report shows that some milestones have been completed ahead of schedule, while others – some of which are contingent on government and regulatory reviews, and some which require thorough stakeholder engagement – will need additional focus to meet target dates.
“Importantly, Mr McPhee has recognised that banks are taking actions to deliver meaningful change for their customers and are taking steps to ensure those initiatives requiring additional effort and resources are given the necessary attention,” Ms Tate said.
“We have made a lot of progress already to help customers when things go wrong. Following extensive consultation with consumer representatives and regulators, the ABA has released guiding principles on how banks can improve the way they handle customer complaints by establishing a new dedicated customer advocate role.
“A number of banks have already announced the appointment of their customer advocate, and we’re expecting further announcements over the coming months,” she said.
“The ABA has also published draft guiding principles on protections for whistleblowers, which we are interested in getting the views of the wider community on. The public is invited to have their say on the consultation draft by emailing by 2 November 2016.
“Two important independent reviews – the Sedgwick Review into retail bank staff pay and incentives, and the Khoury Review into conduct standards – are well into the analysis phase after a period of public consultation. We await the findings about how banks can strengthen their practices and their commitments to customers.
“The ABA and banks will continue to deliver the initiatives as well as work with Mr McPhee to help us determine what success looks like,” Ms Tate said.
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“This is about engaging with the entire banking ecosystem in order to ensure the accessibility of the sector’s services are best serving our diverse community now, and into the future.”
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The Treasurer has indicated that the federal government is closely monitoring the situation.