Bankers’ Association responds to regulators

Last night the Bankers’ Association responded to calls from the Reserve Bank and the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) to provide them with evidence of how New Zealand’s banking culture and conduct is different from what has been revealed by the Australian Royal Commission into financial services industry misconduct.

In a letter to the regulators, the Association set out the regulatory and other market differences between New Zealand and Australia, and the initiatives the industry is currently working on to maintain public trust and confidence in the New Zealand banking sector.

“We believe we have a strong banking culture in New Zealand. We fully accept we need to back up that position with proof, and we’re happy to work openly and constructively with our regulators to do that,” says New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Karen Scott-Howman.

Some banks have already taken steps to address issues raised by the Royal Commission.

In addition to individual banks providing assurances to regulators on their own business practices, the industry is committed to continuous improvement. We have set out the following initiatives in our letter to the regulators:

  • Consider adopting an industry-wide whistleblowers’ standard to ensure there are clear processes and safeguards for employees to raise conduct issues
  • Work with government agencies to establish a ‘bad conduct’ register to allow effective reporting of employee conduct that falls below community expectations
  • Finalise a new edition of the Code of Banking Practice that better communicates banks’ existing customer commitments
  • Consider how to further change their remuneration policies to ensure retail staff no longer receive incentives based directly on sales performance
  • Consider how to provide further funding to regulators to ensure they can carry out their functions most effectively
  • Provide the Banking Ombudsman with further information on banks’ internal dispute resolution schemes, to help ensure they are leading to good customer outcomes.

The letter to the Reserve Bank and the FMA is available here.