Tarred by the banking royal commission, the Australian financial sector is looking for a renewal of trust.
Financial Services Institute of Australasia chief executive Chris Whitehead launched a number of reforms in Canberra on Thursday.
“The royal commission early this year has revealed the urgent need to raise professionalism and standards across the Australian banking industry, the bedrock solution to the industry’s structural weaknesses,” Mr Whitehead said.
“As an organisation, we felt the industry needed to focus on lifting levels of competency and conduct and improved culture in banking.”
As the launch took place at Parliament House, the Federal Court in Melbourne found Westpac had engaged in “unconscionable” conduct.
Mr Whitehead announced industry-wide standards to restore trust in financial services – known as the Professional Banking Standards.
Australia has no defined industry-wide requirements for professional qualifications in banking.
“That’s a vital complement to proper regulation of the industry,” Mr Whitehead said.
“There’s a world of difference between compliance with the law and aspiration and ethics that guide you when the rules aren’t clear.”
His organisation would also push for a “professional banking council” to set standards of competence and conduct for the banking industry.
The announcement was made as Treasurer Scott Morrison introduced legislation into the lower house to ensure accountability in the financial sector.
The changes would create a second deputy chair position within the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.
“This helps to maximise the skills and capabilities available to APRA within its leadership,” Mr Morrison said.
“This reform supports the government’s actions to increase accountability and competition in the financial sector.”
The royal commission has previously heard evidence of bank advisers charging dead clients for financial service, fees for no service and dodgy advice from financial planners, with Australian Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin saying his agency will investigate any criminal referrals.