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Australia | Publication | August 2021
The Australian Banking Association (ABA) is currently undertaking the anticipated three-yearly independent review of the Banking Code of Practice (BCOP), with the consultation period having just closed.
In setting out the standards of service expected of the banking industry for individual and small business customers, BCOP is a critical reference point for institutions, customers and regulators. It also represents a source of significant financial and non-financial risk for banks if their policies and procedures fail to comply or meet the requirements.
Since the last review of the BCOP, banks have faced a Royal Commission and Australia has experienced numerous extreme weather events, natural disasters and the COVID-19 global pandemic – all of which have severely impacted individuals, businesses and the economy. The current review is being conducted in this context to ensure the BCOP remains aligned with rising community expectations, changing customer needs and the evolving financial market.
The Consumers’ Federation of Australia (CFA), the peak body for consumer organisations in Australia, has submitted a detailed set of recommendations. Mike Callaghan ASM PSM, the independent reviewer, will be weighing these up, amongst the other submissions, including a submission from this firm, as he considers the case for BCOP change. We expect these proposals and many others will be observed with interest by the banks as the review process moves on.
The CFA’s recommendations address a number of aspects of the BCOP and specifically respond to issues raised in the Terms of Reference. Areas that the CFA has targeted which will interest banks include the following:
Mr Callaghan is due to report his review findings to the ABA by the end of November 2021. The ABA’s response to the findings is expected in March 2022.
How Mr Callaghan strikes the balance between the need to support consumer protection (especially for the vulnerable) and the ability for banks to provide services in an efficient, and relatively unburdened manner, will be keenly followed by the banking sector. Legal and Risk teams will be especially alive to decisions that Mr Callaghan makes that push banks further along the enforceability spectrum and changes that may require further implementation and up-skilling within those organisations.
In the meantime, if you would like to know more about the BCOP review and how it could affect your organisation, please contact us.
Nina Varumo is a freelance portrait and documentary photographer based in Stockholm. A recent project of hers Kvinnor till sjöss (‘Women at sea’) is on ongoing photo series highlighting the working life of female seafarers in order to change the stereotypical image of what and who is a seafarer.
Companies have been publicly reporting on their financial performance for over a hundred years. However, they are increasingly having to make public non-financial disclosures relating to sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters as a result of rules, laws and regulations issued by stock exchanges, governments and regulators worldwide.
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