Australian banks admitted to failing customers and vowed to ‘reset’ their industry, as they braced for the release of a crunch report Monday into financial abuses in the sector.
Mired in scandals, the wealthy lenders have sought to regain favour with the public and politicians as the year-long Royal Commission exposed repeated misconduct and poor treatment of customers.
‘Banks know they have failed their customers and not lived up to the high standards Australians rightly expect of the industry,’ Australian Banking Association chief executive Anna Bligh said in a statement Monday.
‘We do know this an opportunity to reset the industry and to make things better for our customers.’
Share prices for Australia’s ‘big four’ banks have slid in recent days on fears the report’s recommendations, if fully adopted, could impose onerous compliance requirements that crimp bank earnings.
The inquiry’s interim report in September slammed banks and their executives for their greed and for failing to meet ‘basic standards of honesty’.
The final report is expected to go further, potentially recommending wide-ranging legislative and regulatory changes, a crackdown on incentives and pay packages, and criminal charges against senior executives and banks.
The recommendations are not binding on the government but public fury  will likely see many or all of them adopted.
Banks have already started to address some of the issues raised, such as spinning off their financial advisory arms from their main activities to avoid conflicts of interest.