The ABA is committed to improving customer outcomes in retail banking
The Consumer Outcomes Group (COG) is the ABA’s forum for consumer groups to raise and discuss existing and emerging issues.
Issues are prioritised to work on together to improve customer outcomes. This may include bank practices and products, regulatory issues, and issues impacting low income and vulnerable customers.
To resolve issues COG may share information, do joint research, develop shared policy and regulatory reform positions, and / or change to bank practices.
The Consumer Federation of Australia nominates the seven consumer organisations to work with the ABA on COG.
The ABA also seeks feedback on other work to improve vulnerable customer outcomes from COG consumer representatives and other specialist consumer organisations.
Recent examples include:
- The updated financial abuse guidelines which outline how banks respond to financial abuse – in particular, Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) and elder abuse
- Development of the Financial Assistance Hub which provides a step-by-step guide to customers experiencing financial difficulty.
Examples of things the ABA has worked on with consumer groups include:
Customers who deferred their loans as part of a COVID-19 assistance offering will not have missed repayments reflected on their credit report. This was an industry first, ensuring customers were not unduly impacted by the crisis.
Rachna came to financial counselling in 2011 after a career in retail banking. She is a financial counsellor currently working as the Senior Practitioner, Financial Wellbeing Program, at South East Community Links (SECL).
Rachna works with people experiencing financial difficulty from a range of cultural backgrounds who have been impacted by unemployment, living on a low income, family violence, gambling and other life events.
Rachna is on the SECL board as a Staff representative and is a former member of the Financial Ombudsman Service- Consumer Liaison Group as a consumer representative.
Rachna has a Masters in Business (Swinburne University of Technology), and a Dip. Community Services (Financial Counselling).
Gerard is CEO of the Consumer Action Law Centre, an independent, not-for-profit consumer organisation based in Melbourne. Consumer Action provides financial counselling, legal advice and representation to support vulnerable and disadvantaged Victorian consumers, and draws on its direct knowledge of the consumer experience in modern markets to pursue consumer interest campaigns and policy reform at both state and national levels.
Gerard is also the Chair of Consumers’ Federation of Australia, the peak body for consumer organisations in Australia, representing a diverse range of consumer groups, including most national consumer organisations.
Adrian was appointed the inaugural Customer Advocate for the Westpac Group in November 2016.
Adrian represents customers and is independent of Westpac Group’s business units.
Prior to joining the Westpac Group Adrian was a lawyer for more than 30 years, most recently as a partner at international law firm, Norton Rose Fulbright, where he held various roles including Global Chairman.
Angela has been the Commonwealth Bank Group’s Customer Advocate since September 2019. Supported by the Office of the Customer Advocate, Angela uses an independent and community-informed voice to help the Group to identify, address and prevent poor customer outcomes. More information about Angela’s role as the Commonwealth Bank Group Customer Advocate can be found here.
Angela co-chairs Unity, the Commonwealth Bank’s LGBTI+ employee network, which advocates for a culture of inclusion and respect regardless of sexuality, gender and expression across the organisation and broader communities.
Angela has also sat on the board of One Door Mental Health, a leading mental health service provider specialising in severe and persistent mental illnesses, since 2020.
As a descendant of the Wangkumara people of far west NSW, Lynda is a passionate advocate for financial inclusion, fairness and financial resilience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia.
After more than a decade in the finance sector, she joined the consumer advocacy movement as program manager at CentaCare Wilcannia-Forbes, she was involved with projects that delivered financial literacy and awareness and advocated for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including in the Do Not Knock campaign and superannuation and funeral insurance products.
Lynda has completed the Diploma of Financial Counselling and has been involved with consultation groups around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander financial literacy, the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council, Indigenous Financial Services Network, Indigenous Financial Resilience Research Project with First Nations Foundation, Australian Council for International Development and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Financial Literacy Forum, which is now in its 10th year
Mike Norfolk joined ANZ from Coutts and Co., the Wealth Division of Royal Bank of Scotland in 2014. Mr Norfolk was Head of Private Banking at Coutts and Co. since March 2011, responsible for driving business improvement across the UK and selected international locations. He also held several senior leadership roles with Coutts between 1998 and 2010, responsible for leading large teams to drive long term sustainable growth in the UK wealth management business.
Paul Holmes is the National Legal Aid Representative on the ABA Consumer Outcomes Group. For the past 10 years, Paul has worked as a Senior Lawyer and Consumer Advocate in the Consumer Protection Unit of Civil Justice Services at Legal Aid Queensland.
Paul’s work focuses on assisting consumers in vulnerable circumstances who have legal problems with their mortgages, personal loans, car loans, credit cards, small amount loans, consumer lease, insurance products, telecommunications and other essential services.
Paul is also passionate about improving consumers’ knowledge of their rights under banking and finance and insurance products through community education and is heavily involved in Legal Aid Queensland’s Community Legal Education program.
Paul is a current member of the ICA Consumer Liaison Forum, the FOS Consumer Liaison Group and is the current Chair of the General Insurance Code Governance Committee Association.
Since joining Bendigo and Adelaide Bank in 1987, Robert has held a wide and varied range of positions across the Group, from Customer Service Officer to playing a pivotal role in the development and expansion of the Community Bank® model. Robert is currently Executive Corporate and Public Affairs with responsibility for shaping and maximising the Bank’s position through external communications and championing its point of difference to all stakeholder groups. From 2006 Robert managed key innovative partnerships for the Bank before moving into the role of Head of Group Strategy in 2009. Robert joined the Bank’s executive team in 2013.
Ian Yates is Chief Executive of COTA Australia, the national peak body for COTAs (Councils on the Ageing) in each State and Territory of Australia. Ian was appointed CE of COTA SA in June 1989 and has played national leadership roles in COTA since 2002.
Ian serves on a wide variety of federal government and aged care sector national bodies. He is a member of the Federal Government’s Aged Care Financing Authority; a member of the Aged Care Sector Committee; a member of the Aged Care Quality Advisory Council; and a member of the Private Health Insurance Ministerial Advisory Council. Ian is the COTA representative on the National Aged Care Alliance and its Sponsors Group.
Campbell joined NAB in 2018 as General Manager NAB Assist after a 20-year career at ANZ. During his time with ANZ, Campbell led teams across Retail, Operations and Call Centre functions all at a senior level including time leading the ANZ operational teams in Bengaluru India.
Most recently Campbell was appointed the Executive of NAB Assist leading a specialist team to provide customers facing financial difficulty and hardship by offering assistance that is tailored to the individual’s circumstances. Campbell’s remit at NAB is a clear one, to continue to keep the customer at heart of all that NAB Assist do and to lift NAB’s support of vulnerable communities to the next level.
Campbell is a board member at Way Forward Debt Solutions, he is passionate about community growth and a regular participant in corporate and community activities that supports vulnerable Australians.
Jane Britt is Policy and Advocacy Team Leader at Blind Citizens Australia, a national representative organisation of people who are blind or vision impaired.
Previously, she was National Policy Officer for over two years. Jane is a graduate of Vision Australia’s Graduate Start program in Service Innovation and Design. She is a current Non-Executive Director of Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN). Jane has worked with the Disability Leadership Institute as an Engagement Guru and as a freelance writer for the Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training (ADCET) and Eureka Street.
As an integral member of QDeNgage for QDN, Jane has provided consultancy advice and feedback on disability for government consultations. She is a current member is the Steering Committee for the LEAD project with WWDA, and Reference Group for Deafblind Australia. Jane is Co-founder and former President of Achilles Brisbane. Jane has recently been awarded a 2020 Vision Australia Award for her commitment to advocacy.
Drew MacRae has worked in policy development and advocacy for over 20 years.
Drew is currently Policy and Advocacy Officer at the Financial Rights Legal Centre, where he represents the interests of banking, insurance and other financial services consumers. Drew acted as the representative leading consumer input into the 2016 ABA’s Banking Code review, worked on Financial Right’s input into to the financial services royal commission; and advocated on the subsequent reforms arising out of the commission’s final report. Drew has also represented consumer interests in the development of Open Banking and the related regulatory and industry reforms brought about by the Consumer Data Right and the application of digital technology to the financial services sector.
Prior to his work in the financial services sector, Drew worked in film, television and media sector policy and before that worked as a journalist.
General Manager, Corporate Affairs at Bank of Queensland
Somesh is a