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New customer-focused bank code on the way

30 June 2017

Sydney, 30 June 2017: The Australian Bankers’ Association said today the industry’s Code of Banking Practice was on track to be finalised by the end of 2017, with redrafting well underway to make it more accessible to customers and small businesses.

ABA Acting CEO Diane Tate said the industry was incorporating feedback from a wide range of stakeholders as part of the redraft.

“The review of the Code of Banking Practice was completed when the final report from independent consultant Mr Phil Khoury was published in February.

“The industry has been working through the 99 recommendations from the review, as well as recommendations made by various other inquiries and reviews.

“Since publishing our initial industry response in March, the industry has consulted with more than 30 stakeholders, including consumer groups, small business and farming representatives, regulators, government representatives, ombudsmen and other peak bodies,” she said.

“This extensive stakeholder engagement phase is helping find solutions to some of the more complex issues. It has also identified areas the industry needs to revisit and raised issues not addressed in the final report.

“We are doing this to ensure the new Code meets the evolving needs of customers and the wider community. The new Code will result in better outcomes for customers in important areas such as credit cards and financial hardship,” Ms Tate said.

In addition to the stakeholder meetings, banks have conducted 12 workshops to consider all the feedback and resolve outstanding recommendations. A plain-English specialist is redrafting the Code to transform it into a consumer-friendly resource.

Ms Tate said the aim of finalising the new Code by the end of 2017 was ambitious but necessary.

“Banks want customers to have confidence we’re delivering on our commitment to make banking better.

“The next major milestone is conducting consumer testing to ensure the new Code delivers the transformational change for customers that the industry is committed to deliver,” she said.

“The ABA is working with the Code Compliance Monitoring Committee on its role and mandate with a view to strengthening the governance of the Code.

“Once we’ve completed the stakeholder engagement and consumer testing, the Code redraft will move into the next phase. We will be providing ASIC with a new Code to seek their approval under the Corporations Act.”

Some of the changes customers can expect in a new Code are more transparency around products and services, a more prominent commitment to ethical behaviour and a new dedicated section to help small businesses.

“Banks promised to provide a quarterly update on the Code redraft to make sure all interested parties are kept up to date with our progress and the public can see what we’re doing to change banking standards, which is particularly important for those less close to the process,” Ms Tate said.

The next update on progress of redrafting the Code will be issued in September.

A new Code is a significant part of the industry’s Better Banking program to improve culture and customer service.

ENDS

Contact: Stephanie Arena 0477 470 677 or Nic Frankham 0435 963 913

@austbankers

bankers.asn.au

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