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Regional finance to come under royal commission scrutiny
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Regional finance to come under royal commission scrutiny

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Reporter 2 minute read

The financial services royal commission has announced that the next round of hearings will review issues experienced by customers of financial services entities in remote and regional communities.

The fourth round of hearings of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry will focus on issues affecting Australians living in remote and regional communities, including farming finance, natural disaster insurance and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians’ interactions with financial services entities.

The hearings will be held in Brisbane from Monday, 25 June, to Friday, 29 June, and in Darwin from 2–6 July.

Applications for leave to appear are not yet open, but the commission has said that it will advise stakeholders when applications are being accepted.

Additional information about topics and case studies to be covered during the fourth round of hearings will be published on the commission’s website prior to commencement.

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Royal commission recap

The first round of public hearings, held between 13 March and 23 March, considered issues concerning the treatment of consumers by banks and financial service providers in connection with credit products, which included residential mortgages, car finance and credit cards.

The initial round identified breaches of responsible lending obligations by Australia’s major banks and third-party intermediaries, with ANZ, the Commonwealth Bank and its third-party subsidiary Aussie Home Loans, NAB and Westpac all appearing before the commission.

The second round of public hearings, held between 16 April and 27 April, investigated the conduct of financial advisers, including the treatment of consumers, compliance with the law and community standards and expectations, and the sufficiency of the current legal and regulatory structure.

Among the revelations of misconduct identified by the commission were AMP’s concession that its financial planning division charged clients “fees for no service” as well as inappropriate advice issued by advisers that adversely affected the financial wellbeing of customers.

The third round of hearings, which commenced on 21 May and is still underway, has considered the conduct of several of the leading banks in respect of their dealings with small and medium enterprises, in particular in providing credit to businesses.

The third round of hearings has identified instances of wrongdoing and maladministration in the treatment of small business customers by lenders, with Westpac, the Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB, Suncorp and Bank of Queensland all appearing before the commission.

The third round of hearings will conclude on Friday, 1 June.

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Regional finance to come under royal commission scrutiny
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