Skip to main content
Click here for the new Financial Assistance Hub

Royal Commission


Since the Royal Commission in 2019, the banking industry has tougher rules imposed by the Government and regulators, a back to basics approach to banking which is squarely centred on the customer and a renewed focus on fixing culture. During this time of change, one thing remains the same: banks are open for business.

Changes since the Royal Commission

At the release of the Final Report of the Royal Commission in 2019 the industry committed to learning the lessons, fixing the problems and making things right. A wide range of new actions have been taken by banks, regulators and the Government to stamp out bad behaviour and ensure the problems identified by the Royal Commission are fixed.

Back to Basics

  • December 2020 saw the Government pass legislation that addressed 20 recommendations from the Royal Commission.
  • Banks are working with Government to develop and implement more than 40 pieces of legislation designed to improve customer outcomes.
  • Work to improve culture and governance is continuing in all banks.
  • Banks continue to train staff and implement new Banking Code protections.
  • Banks have standardised basic bank accounts with no account keeping or overdrawn fees and no minimum deposits, for customers with government concession cards.
  • Banking is more accessible, particularly for customers living in remote areas or with limited English and Australians with basic bank accounts.
  • Banks are simplifying their businesses to focus on core banking.
  • A number of banks have sold or are selling their other businesses such as wealth management, insurance and financial advice.

Fixing the Culture

  • Abolished sales-based incentives for frontline staff.
  • Reduced financial measures for frontline staff to only 30% of variable pay (where relevant).
  • Introduced bonuses tied to non-financial measures such as risk management and good customer outcomes.
  • Deferred 60% of CEO bonuses for a minimum of four years.
  • Short term variable remuneration was cut for most bank executives in 2019.
  • Banks have more than 2,000 staff working to ensure customers get back the money they are owed.
  • More than $5.8b has been allocated to customer refunds and related remediation programs.
  • The new Code contains more than 200 commitments to improve the rights of customers.
  • The new Code has been updated to provide further protections for farmers, small business owners and guarantors, to meet the requirements of the Royal Commission.
  • The new Code ensures that bereaved customers are treated with compassion and respect and that fees are not charged where services are not provided.
  • Download the New Code Brochure

Tougher Rules

  • 1,400 senior executives are now on the Banking Executive Accountability Regime (BEAR) register of accountable persons.
  • Maximum penalties for breaches under BEAR range from $10m for small banks to $210m for large banks.
  • Increased regulator surveillance. Last year ASIC staff were in banks for 205 days, conducting 713 meetings.
  • Higher financial penalties and longer prison sentences for criminal behaviour.
  • New powers for ASIC to change or stop the sale of financial and credit products that are detrimental to customers.
  • New powers for ASIC to investigate and conduct searches and ban individuals from the industry.
  • New rules for debt collection services to protect customers with unsecured debts.
  • New banking industry guidelines to improve access for customers with disability.
  • New Banking Code requirements to take extra care with customers experiencing vulnerability.
Anna Bligh, CEO ABA
What we do (in response to the Royal Commission) has a ripple affect across the entire economy and in the lives of every Australian. We’re required to get it right. If we get it wrong there’s a lot at stake.
Anna Bligh, CEO ABA
George Frazis, CEO, Bank of Queensland
You’ve got to simplify. For your bank, and your customers. What’s happening with technology, it’s allowing us and our competitors to understand and serve our customers better, and I’m really optimistic about that.
George Frazis, CEO, Bank of Queensland
Fiona Guthrie, CEO, Financial Counselling Australia
This is not an abstract discussion. This is about people’s lives. The clarity of the law and the banks’ response to the Royal Commission is important. It seems to be that they’ve got the balance right.
Fiona Guthrie, CEO, Financial Counselling Australia
Matt Comyn, CEO, Commonwealth Bank
The financial service industry stands united to rebuild those communities (affected by the bushfires). It’s not just about rebuilding, it’s about rebuilding better, and with more resilience.
Matt Comyn, CEO, Commonwealth Bank

Progress made: from 2019 to 2021

READ THE TABLE: See the progress that banks have made on recommendations of the Hayne Royal Commission in the year since it was published.


Rural loans are managed by experienced rural bankers. Done
Early offer of farm debt mediation. Done
Manage every distressed rural loan to try to achieve
best outcomes for the borrower and the bank.
Appointment of receivers is a remedy of last resort. Done
Stop charging default interest on rural loans when there is no real prospect of recovering the money.Done
Additional annual reviews of how front line staff are paid (where relevant). Ongoing/Annual
Fully implement the recommendations of the Sedgwick Review by 2020. Done
Assess entity culture and governance as often as reasonably possible. Ongoing

Tougher rules, back to basics and fixing the culture one year on.

Download media release

The Royal Commission: One Year On panel – Shangri-La Hotel, January 2020

Read the Final Report

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry was established by the Government in December 2017, with the first of seven public hearings held in March 2018, and the final round held in November 2018.

The Federal Government released the Final Report on Monday 4 February 2019.

The three volumes of the final report can be downloaded below.

“Banks are determined to learn the lessons, to fix the problems and to make it right. Australians expect better from their banks, and more than that, they deserve better.” Anna Bligh

Final Report – Volume 1

Download Volume 1

Final Report – Volume 2 – Case Studies

Download Volume 2

Final Report – Volume 3 – Appendices

Download Volume 3

Interim Report

The Commissioner, the Honourable Kenneth Madison Hayne AC QC, has submitted his interim report to the Governor General.


The Commission had been tasked with identifying if misconduct occurred, and if it did, the details surrounding it. In addition, the Commission was also directed to investigate internal processes and the time that organisations took to respond to issues.

In the Terms of Reference it was also stressed that the Commission needed to consider the ongoing stability of the finance sector in Australia, the economic implications of any recommendations; including the availability and cost of financial services for the Australian community.

The Commission received 10,140 submissions, 61% related to banking, 12% superannuation and 9% financial advice.

Commissioner, the Honourable Kenneth Madison Hayne AC QC,  submitted a final report on 1 February 2019.

Banking Code of Practice

Included in the Commission’s terms of reference was the examination of the adequacy of industry self-regulation, including industry codes of conduct.

The Banking Code of Practice, the rules and guidelines by which banks service the needs of their customers, is reviewed every five years, with the most recent review beginning in 2016.

In an historic move the new Code was submitted to ASIC for approval in late 2017 and was given the green light for use by the regulator in 2018. All banks with a retail presence in Australia will need to be compliant with the new Code by July 2019.

Banking Reform Program

In 2016, the banking industry consulted with a wide variety of stakeholders, to improve outcomes for customers.

The six initiatives in the Banking Reform Program were designed to fix problems and ensure banks change their practices, to earn back community trust in banks.