3.1 Banking

Consumer lending: Direct lending

Recommendation 1.1 – The NCCP Act

The NCCP Act should not be amended to alter the obligation to assess unsuitability.

Consumer lending: Intermediated home lending

Recommendation 1.2 – Best interests duty

The law should be amended to provide that, when acting in connection with home lending, mortgage brokers must act in the best interests of the intending borrower. The obligation should be a civil penalty provision.

Recommendation 1.3 – Mortgage broker remuneration

The borrower, not the lender, should pay the mortgage broker a fee for acting in connection with home lending.

Changes in brokers’ remuneration should be made over a period of two or three years, by first prohibiting lenders from paying trail commission to mortgage brokers in respect of new loans, then prohibiting lenders from paying other commissions to mortgage brokers.

Recommendation 1.4 – Establishment of working group

A Treasury-led working group should be established to monitor and, if necessary, adjust the remuneration model referred to in Recommendation 1.3, and any fee that lenders should be required to charge to achieve a level playing field, in response to market changes.

Recommendation 1.5 – Mortgage brokers as financial advisers

After a sufficient period of transition, mortgage brokers should be subject to and regulated by the law that applies to entities providing financial product advice to retail clients.

Recommendation 1.6 – Misconduct by mortgage brokers

ACL holders should:

  • be bound by informationsharing and reporting obligations in respect of mortgage brokers similar to those referred to in Recommendations 2.7 and 2.8 for financial advisers; and
  • take the same steps in response to detecting misconduct of a mortgage broker as those referred to in Recommendation 2.9 for financial advisers.

Consumer lending: Intermediated lending for vehicles and other consumer goods

Recommendation 1.7 – Removal of point-of-sale exemption

The exemption of retail dealers from the operation of the NCCP Act should be abolished.

Access to banking services

Recommendation 1.8 – Amending the Banking Code

The ABA should amend the Banking Code to provide that:

  • banks will work with customers:
  • who live in remote areas; or
  • who are not adept in using English,

to identify a suitable way for those customers to access and undertake their banking;

  • if a customer is having difficulty proving his or her identity, and tells the bank that he or she identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, the bank will follow AUSTRAC’s guidance about the identification and verification of persons of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage;
  • without prior express agreement with the customer, banks will not allow informal overdrafts on basic accounts; and
  • banks will not charge dishonour fees on basic accounts.

Lending to small and medium enterprises

Recommendation 1.9 – No extension of the NCCP Act

The NCCP Act should not be amended to extend its operation to lending to small businesses.

Recommendation 1.10 – Definition of ‘small business’

The ABA should amend the definition of ‘small business’ in the Banking Code so that the Code applies to any business or group employing fewer than 100 full-time equivalent employees, where the loan applied for is less than $5 million.

Recommendation 1.11 – Farm debt mediation

A national scheme of farm debt mediation should be enacted.

Recommendation 1.12 – Valuations of land

APRA should amend Prudential Standard APS 220 to:

  • require that internal appraisals of the value of land taken or to be taken as security should be independent of loan origination, loan processing and loan decision processes; and
  • provide for valuation of agricultural land in a manner that will recognise, to the extent possible:
  • the likelihood of external events affecting its realisable value; and
  • the time that may be taken to realise the land at a reasonable price affecting its realisable value.

Recommendation 1.13 – Charging default interest

The ABA should amend the Banking Code to provide that, while a declaration remains in force, banks will not charge default interest on loans secured by agricultural land in an area declared to be affected by drought or other natural disaster.

Recommendation 1.14 – Distressed agricultural loans

When dealing with distressed agricultural loans, banks should:

  • ensure that those loans are managed by experienced agricultural bankers;
  • offer farm debt mediation as soon as a loan is classified as distressed;
  • manage every distressed loan on the footing that working out will be the best outcome for bank and borrower, and enforcement the worst;
  • recognise that appointment of receivers or any other form of external administrator is a remedy of last resort; and
  • cease charging default interest when there is no realistic prospect of recovering the amount charged.

Enforceability of industry codes

Recommendation 1.15 – Enforceable code provisions

The law should be amended to provide:

  • that ASIC’s power to approve codes of conduct extends to codes relating to all APRA-regulated institutions and ACL holders;
  • that industry codes of conduct approved by ASIC may include ‘enforceable code provisions’, which are provisions in respect of which a contravention will constitute a breach of the law;
  • that ASIC may take into consideration whether particular provisions of an industry code of conduct have been designated as ‘enforceable code provisions’ in determining whether to approve a code;
  • for remedies, modelled on those now set out in Part VI of the Competition and Consumer Act, for breach of an ‘enforceable code provision’; and
  • for the establishment and imposition of mandatory financial services industry codes.

Recommendation 1.16 – 2019 Banking Code

In respect of the Banking Code that ASIC approved in 2018, the ABA and ASIC should take all necessary steps to have the provisions that govern the terms of the contract made or to be made between the bank and the customer or guarantor designated as ‘enforceable code provisions’.

Processing and administrative errors

Recommendation 1.17 – BEAR product responsibility

After appropriate consultation, APRA should determine for the purposes of section 37BA(2)(b) of the Banking Act, a responsibility, within each ADI subject to the BEAR, for all steps in the design, delivery and maintenance of all products offered to customers by the ADI and any necessary remediation of customers in respect of any of those products.