Banks vow to review conduct
Australia’s banks have commissioned their own review of how their industry receives payments, treats customers and protects whistleblowers, as federal Labor maintains pressure for a royal commission.
The Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) has announced a major independent review of product sales commissions and product-based payments, as well as how poor conduct by bank employees is handled.
‘This package aims to address consumer concerns about remuneration, the protection of whistleblowers, the handling of customer complaints and dealing with poor conduct,’ ABA chief executive Steven Munchenberg said Thursday in a statement.
The new measures come a day after the federal government announced improved funding and powers for the corporate regulator, ASIC, including a new commissioner focused on prosecutions of misconduct in the financial sector.
Labor has maintained its call for a royal commission into the banking sector, which has come under growing pressure to clean up their performance.
Under the new measures announced on Thursday, product sales commissions and product-based payments will be reviewed ‘with a view to removing or changing them where they could lead to poor customer outcomes’, the ABA said.
Protection of whistleblowers will standardised across the banking industry, including independent support, and protection against financial disadvantage.
Other measures to be rolled out by the banking industry include an independent customer advocate in each bank to ‘ensure retail and small business customers have a voice’, and complaints are dealt within specified timeframes.
The banks will also set up an industry register, which would extend existing identification of rogue advisers to any bank employees.
The review of the Code of Banking Practice will also be fast-tracked, and completed by the end of the year.
The banking industry has voiced support for the government’s decision to introduce an industry funding model for ASIC and the four biggest banks, National Australia Bank, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking, have pledged not to pass on the ASIC costs to customers.
The banking industry has appointed a lawyer, Gina Cass-Gottlieb from Gilbert and Tobin, to lead the work on the new measures, and the selection of an independent expert to oversee implementation.