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2018 - A year in review

by Lewis Panther SA FIN | 12 Dec 2018
It would be a huge underestimation to describe 2018 as just eventful for FINSIA, its members and Australian financial services. 500 2018 A Year in Review - InFinance - FINSIA
Research carried out by FINSIA at the beginning of the year showed a very real trust deficit towards the industry with close to a fifth of under 45s ready to switch bank to get a professional service.
In February, the Productivity Commission came out with draft findings that were highly critical of the “closed shop” that is the Four Pillars policy for the major banks.
The following month saw Rowena “Shock” and Orr take centre stage and put those banks under the blowtorch of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in Banking and Financial Services with the assiduous ease of a silk at the top of her game.
Not that the banks had anywhere to go in ducking the hard questions from the QC assisting former High Court judge Kenneth Hayne during the $75m inquiry that would eventually run for 69 days.
Even before it began, ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott’s admission in a letter to staff that the banks could not blame a few bad apples or IT systems summed up the need for institutions to take it on the chin and show contrition.
“Although many of the issues in our submission are known and have been or are being fixed — seeing them all in one document is confronting,” he said.
“My hope is the Royal Commission serves as a watershed moment in restoring the trust of customers and the community. 
"For me, it’s completely unacceptable that we have caused some of our customers financial harm and emotional stress. I’m ultimately accountable for this and once again apologise."
The reason that Elliott and many of the other senior figures in the industry felt the need to say sorry would become plain for all to see with the revelations served up in fortnightly blocks in throughout the year in April, May, June, August, September and November. 
Stories of fees for no services, dead people being charged more than a decade after they passed away, predatory behaviour towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and putting the credit card limits of self-confessed gambling addicts up led to banks finding themselves moving from the business pages to the front covers of newspapers and led radio and TV bulletins
In his 1,000-page interim report at the end of September, Commissioner Hayne summed up the driving force behind the misconduct being down to a focus on short term profits - and greed.
By the time the public hearings concluded just over a month ago, with CEOs, regulators and boards asked to offer up answers and a way forward, a sense of disappointed deja vu hung over the whole proceedings.
What Commissioner Hayne’s final recommendations will hold will become clear when he reports his findings on 1 February.  
But the scale of what his team will be going through between now and then is vast. While some eyebrows were raised that only 27 customers were heard, there have been 134 witnesses called to the stand, 400 witness statements, 7000 pages of transcripts and 820,000 documents.
And even after the final report, it is what parliament puts into practice that matters. To some extent. As Shayne Elliott indicated at the beginning of the year, measures were already being taken to rectify the kinds of behaviour that caused such poor outcomes for customers.
FINSIA too had already embarked on a pathway to achieving much better results for both members and the banking community as a whole.
In this InFinance slot last year, we talked about the partnership with the UK Chartered Banker Institute. That’s been rolled out to encompass education and training that can take you all the way from working as a teller to the C-suite. 
Since its launch in May, hundreds of people are working towards Professional Banking Fundamentals from across the whole sector.
FINSIA’s return to becoming an education provider has also seen the launch of Certified Professional Banker and Chartered Banker by Experience.
“FINSIA is really excited to be back, providing professional qualifications after too many years away,” Head of Standards and Education Kylie Blundell, SA FIN, said.
“To be blunt, we are plugging a gap. We did an extensive study of the Australian market and identified the need for specific and relevant qualifications in banking.
“So we have put together a full suite of practical qualifications designed by industry practitioners for industry practitioners."
“They’re in-depth and rigorous but can be taken as part of an institution’s sponsored program or individual’s daily working regime."
“The beauty of these programs is how easily they can be integrated into a bank’s existing learning and development frameworks."
“Some of them can be completed as stand-alone modules or as an alternate entry point to achieve the Chartered Banker status."
We have also been busy lobbying for the best deal for members with 20 submissions during 2018. That’s as many as were made during the preceding five years - and highlights just how much upheaval is going on in the industry.
With the Royal Commission to produce its final report on 1 February, there is little doubt next year is shaping up to be just as busy.


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