21 April 2017
Sydney, 21 April 2017: The Australian Bankers’ Association has welcomed today’s release of Mr Ian McPhee’s report which found the industry has made significant progress delivering the reform program it announced 12 months ago.
Mr McPhee noted that banks were making good progress in delivering the initiatives but also recognised that expectations are constantly changing and there are government processes which will need to be carefully factored into the reform program.
Significant milestones achieved in the quarter to April 2017 included:
- The appointment of customer advocates by 19 banks to help customers resolve issues.
- Major banks updating their whistleblower protections to meet the highest standard to encourage a ‘speak up’ culture, and three other banks doing this ahead of schedule.
- The delivery of two key independent reviews into the Code of Banking Practice (Khoury Review) and retail bank staff remuneration (Sedgwick Review), which will result in significant benefits to customers.
- Three additional initiatives1 to build on the ‘6 Point Plan’, which address consumer concerns about people in financial hardship, switching banks and small businesses and farmers.
ABA Chief Executive Anna Bligh said she was pleased Mr McPhee had acknowledged banks’ commitment to change.
“One of my first priorities is to work with banks to identify changes that can be implemented quickly and effectively, and which will make a meaningful difference for customers.
“In my own interactions with bank CEOs, I have been impressed by how committed they are towards this reform program and I was pleased Mr McPhee acknowledged this in his report.
“Ultimately it is action, not commitment, which will demonstrate that change is genuine. Banks understand that to build greater trust in banking, customers need to see, feel and touch evidence of change,” Ms Bligh said.
Mr McPhee’s report also highlighted that some reform initiatives – such as external dispute resolution arrangements and ASIC breach reporting – rely on government and regulatory action before banks can progress them further.
Ms Bligh said that in addition to the banking industry’s own reform program, there were a further 15 inquiries, reviews or investigations into banking underway by government or regulators.
“There is an enormous amount of scrutiny on banks at the moment and the industry is serious about change. Banks have made a lot of progress over the past year, but there is much more to do.
“The industry needs to get better at communicating its massive reform agenda which is transforming banking in Australia, and also measuring how well it has met the changing expectations of customers and the wider community,” she said.
Contact: Stephanie Arena 0477 470 677 or Nic Frankham 0435 963 913
1These initiatives were announced in January 2017 as part of the Better Banking campaign and are not part of Mr McPhee’s oversight
“Australian banks are certainly better equipped now than they were in the GFC. They’ve got 2 to 2.5 times the capital reserves put aside for a rainy day than they had in the GFC”
“The Australian Banking Association (ABA) welcomes the agreement reached today on the proposed safeguard mechanism reforms, given it paves the way for the passing of a critical piece of legislation for Australia.
“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.”