AS the dust settles on the Banking Royal Commission report released this week, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank managing director Marnie Baker says it’s business as usual.

Australia’s only regionally-based bank came out of the royal commission relatively unscathed, with Australia’s big four drawing most fire.

ANZ, NAB, Westpac and the Commonwealth practices were given close scrutiny, with key reforms planned to improve outcomes for Australian consumers

“Bendigo and Adelaide Bank welcomes commissioner Hayne’s considered and extensive report,” Ms Baker said.

“For Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, it’s business as usual as we continue to focus on the success of our customers and our vision to be Australia’s bank of choice.”

Ms Baker said the bank is continuing to review the report in detail to assess its impacts, findings and recommendations.

“We are pleased to note however that Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has been referenced in a positive light, particularly in relation to our remuneration practices and the way we partner with communities and mortgage managers.

“Naturally, we will work with government and regulatory bodies to implement the government endorsed recommendations, and to ensure there are no unintended consequences.

“A strong, competitive and fair banking system is essential for all Australians and a robust Australian economy. We feel there is more to be done to promote fair and equal competition for Australian consumers.”

Key reforms following the royal commission include putting in place a one-stop shop for consumer complaints, the Australian Financial Complaints Authority; a regulated Banking Executive Accountability Regime; and, new powers and resources for the ACCC to investigate competition issues in the setting of interest rates.

“The final report provides an opportunity for all companies, not just banks, to pause and reassess their priorities and consider more deeply their purpose with regard to customers and society more broadly,” Ms Baker said.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics will conduct public hearings next month as part of its ongoing scrutiny of ths four major banks.

Chair of the committee Tim Wilson MP said the hearings provide an important mechanism to hold the major banks to account before the parliament.

The committee has made a suite of recommendations for banking reform, which have been broadly adopted by the government.

“We welcome any recommendation that puts customers’ interests first, raises professional standards in the industry, encourages responsible remuneration practices and delivers
better outcomes for everyone,” Ms Baker said.

The commission noted work had shown “conduct by financial services entities that has brought public attention and condemnation”.

It said while some conduct was already known to regulators and the public generally; some was not, and as to why the industry had acting so badly “too often, the answer seems to be greed”.

Banking stocks have soared in the wake of the report’s release, while mortgage brokers have complained that their sector seems to have borne the brunt of some of the recommended changes.Meanwhile, the Finance Sector Union’s Julia Angrisano revealed   Westpac is closing 22 branches, including Kangaroo Flat.

“This sends a clear message to Westpac’s customers and staff,  the bank cares more about profits than people,” she said.

Steve Kendall