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Banks taking 'positive steps' on reforms

Banks taking 'positive steps' on reforms

An independent report has found the banking industry is making good progress in its effort to implement its package of reforms – although some elements have fallen behind schedule.

Former auditor-general Ian McPhee has issued his second report on the Australian banking industry’s implementation of initiatives announced 21 April 2016 to improve community confidence in banks.

Mr McPhee’s review found the industry had taken "positive steps" to introducing the new initiatives, which were designed to address a number of key areas of concern.

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These areas include product sales commissions, customer support when things go wrong, reaffirming support for whistleblowers, removing people for poor conduct, supporting ASIC and strengthening the Code of Conduct.

“For each of the initiatives, the industry has agreed to implement measures to achieve the nominated objective. Overall, good progress has been made in advancing these various measures in the three months since my last report,” Mr McPhee said.

The review noted that while the banks had fallen behind schedule in some areas, it remained “manageable at this stage”, and that milestones in other areas had been reached ahead of schedule.

“It is encouraging to see the steps being taken by the industry within the first six months of the planned 18 month period for the development of the various measures,” Mr McPhee said.

“Just as encouraging has been the initiative shown by some banks to take early steps to adopt industry positions, in some cases in advance of the development of the industry policies.”

Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) executive director of retail policy Diane Tate said the ABA would continue to work with banks to implement the initiatives, and that the industry had “made a lot of progress already”.

“Following extensive consultation with consumer representatives and regulators, the ABA has released guiding principles on how banks can improve the way they handle customer complaints by establishing a new dedicated customer advocate role,” she said.

“A number of banks have already announced the appointment of their customer advocate, and we’re expecting further announcements over the coming months.”

[Related: APRA taps banks for more mortgage data]

Banks taking 'positive steps' on reforms
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