Sixteen Australian bank CEOs have acknowledged that the industry has not always lived up to the standards customers expect.
The Council of the Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA), comprising 16 bank chief executives, made the admission in a statement last week.
NAB chief executive and ABA chairman, Andrew Thorburn said the industry came together in April to announce a comprehensive package of new measures to protect consumer interests, increase transparency and accountability and build trust and confidence in banks.
“The council recognises the importance of delivering on these commitments as soon as possible, while giving time for consumer groups, community organisations, small business representatives, regulators and others to have their say and help guide us towards the right outcomes,” he said.
Former Commonwealth Auditor-General Ian McPhee AO PSM is monitoring banks’ progress and providing public reports, the first of which was published in July.
The ABA said the package covers many of the issues put forward as justification for a royal commission, including:
Remuneration: An independent review of how bank staff are paid is underway, to ensure that when people are rewarded for selling products and services they are putting customers’ interests first.
The protection of whistleblowers: Banks are committed to having the highest standards of whistleblower protections, so that people feel able to speak out against poor conduct and practices and are not disadvantaged if they do.
Handling customer complaints: A dedicated customer advocate will be established in each bank to give more support to people when they have a complaint.
Dealing with poor conduct: The banking industry is establishing an industry register to identify employees who have breached the law or code of conduct, so that poor behaviour doesn’t move around the financial services sector.
Bank conduct standards: An independent review of the Code of Banking Practice is underway. This will look at how banking practices can be improved to ensure they meet customer needs.
“Given the central role banks play in keeping people’s money safe, helping them make major purchases, including buying their homes, and enabling businesses, big and small, to invest in their futures, confidence in the banking system should be a core priority,” said Mike Hirst, deputy chairman of the ABA and CEO of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.
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James Mitchell has over eight years’ experience as a financial reporter and is the editor of Wealth and Wellness at Momentum Media.
He has a sound pedigree to cover the business of mortgages and the converging financial services sector having reported for leading finance titles InvestorDaily, InvestorWeekly, Accountants Daily, ifa, Mortgage Business, Residential Property Manager, Real Estate Business, SMSF Adviser, Smart Property Investment, and The Adviser.
He has also been published in The Daily Telegraph and contributed online to FST Media and Mergermarket, part of the Financial Times Group.
James holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature and an MA in Journalism.
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