NAB and ANZ reserve judgement on risk weighting

Two major banks have delivered an underwhelming response to one of the key recommendations of the Financial System Inquiry.

The inquiry's final report, which was released earlier this month, recommended a narrowing of the risk weighting used by the big four banks and the smaller lenders.

The inquiry argued that Australia's financial system would become safer if the big banks were required to hold more capital, but such a move could make them less profitable.

NAB chairman Michael Chaney declared the bank’s support for “initiatives that create a more efficient and stronger financial system” at last week’s annual general meeting.

However, he stopped short of offering NAB’s support for that specific initiative on risk weighting.

“No decisions have yet been made by the government or regulators, and submissions on this final report are open until the end of March. NAB will continue to be an active participant in the inquiry’s process,” Mr Chaney said.

“We believe our balance sheet strength positions us well to meet regulatory changes, and we look forward to continuing to work with government and regulators to ensure Australia continues to enjoy the benefits of a world-class financial system while avoiding impediments to economic growth.”

Meanwhile, ANZ has hinted that it might oppose the Financial System Inquiry’s recommendation on risk weightings.

Chairman David Gonski said ANZ is "one of the world's strongest banks" at last week’s annual general meeting.

"Australia has, of course, benefited from having a very stable, strong and conservatively managed financial system," Mr Gonski said.

"This was recognised in the final report of the Financial System Inquiry – often called the Murray Inquiry – released earlier this month."

ANZ's last submission to the Financial System Inquiry opposed "arbitrary" increases to the current risk weighting.

Mr Gonski told shareholders that ANZ supports a risk-based approach to capital management and the adoption of measures to maintain a strong domestic financial system.

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