Accomplish 28 – October 2016

 ‘We support credit unions, mutual banks and mutual building societies to achieve service standards Australians can trust.’

In this issue:

News from the Committee

Conference attendance

Stakeholder engagement

Meetings of all code chairs and consumer representatives

Own Motion Inquiry ‘Community Engagement’

Annual Report 2015–16

2016 Annual Compliance Statement

Annual Compliance Statement Verification Program

Check out our website – www.cobccc.org.au

Diary dates

News from the Committee

Conference attendance

As part of the NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Week, Code team staff attended the launch of the Financial Ombudsman Service Australia (FOS) Reconciliation Action Plan in July 2017. Danny Lester, Deputy Ombudsman (Aboriginal Programs) with the NSW Government, presented at the event. The Committee commends FOS’s work and supports its commitment to acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

To promote the Committee’s work, in September 2016 the Code team staff attended the Financial Counsellors’ Association of NSW conference in Sydney and the Financial and Consumer Rights Council conference in Melbourne. At the Melbourne conference Code team staff participated in a session with delegates to explain the work of the Committee in monitoring the Code.

The Code team and the Committee Chair attended the FOS Conference in Melbourne in September 2016, demonstrating the link and the differences between external dispute resolution and breach monitoring and reporting. The Code team General Manager participated in a panel discussion about lending to small business.

The General Manager and the Committee Chair attended the Credit Law Conference in Queensland, while the Chair, industry representative and the General Manager attended the COBA Conference in Adelaide in September 2016.

Stakeholder engagement

Code staff had various meetings, including with the First Nation Foundation (a national Indigenous charity), Financial Counselling Australia, the Deputy Small Business Ombudsman, Craig Latham, and representatives from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Credit and Investments Ombudsman.

At its recent meeting, the Committee met with representatives from the Consumer Action Law Centre to discuss issues experienced by consumer advocates in their engagement with the customer owned banking sector and their expectations about future engagement with the Committee.

Meetings of all code chairs and consumer representatives

Separate meetings of the compliance chairs and consumer representatives of all four codes administered by the Code team were organized, allowing for discussion about common issues. The four codes are: the Customer Owned Banking Code, the Code of Banking Practice, the General Insurance Code of Practice and the Insurance Brokers Code of Practice.

Own Motion Inquiry ‘Community Engagement’

During May 2016 we undertook an own motion inquiry (the inquiry) to review customer owned banking institutions’ focus on community and the impact of that engagement on the wider communities they serve, with reference to Key Promise 9 of the Customer Owned Banking Code of Practice (the Code):

We will recognise our impact on the wider community

The customer owned banking sector has a strong community focus. We will take account of the impact of our operations on staff, the communities we serve and our customers. We will promote community engagement and will contribute to community activities and projects.

Through Key Promise 9 of the Code customer owned banking institutions promise to recognise their impact on the wider community. This Key Promise reflects the customer owned banking sector’s commitment to serving both its communities and its customers.

This inquiry seeks to develop a better understanding of how institutions manage their obligations under Key Promise 9, thereby benchmarking current industry practice and making recommendations for good industry practice based on the information provided.

The inquiry gathered information about the communities being served by the customer owned banking industry, the methods of engagement, the focus and impact of that engagement and how institutions embed community engagement in their business culture and framework.

The inquiry report will be published in late 2016.

Annual Report 2015–16

The Annual Report 2015–16, to be published in December 2016, assesses customer owned banking institutions’ compliance with the Customer Owned Banking Code of Practice by analysing aggregated industry data for the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016.

Data has been collated from monitoring the activities of the 73 institutions that subscribed to the Code in 2015–16, and also includes the outcomes of the 2016 ACS and Verification Programs and investigations into alleged Code breaches.

The report reviews the Customer Owned Banking Code Compliance Committee’s monitoring activities from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016, and shares its experience of good industry practice – as well as the initiatives of Code Subscribers – to improve standards of practice and service in the Australian customer owned banking industry.

2016 Annual Compliance Statement

The Annual Compliance Statement (ACS) is a self-assessment tool that helps Code Subscribers review their compliance with Code obligations every year. For Code Subscribers, completing the ACS is a core monitoring obligation.

In 2015–16, 818 Code breaches were self-reported by Code Subscribers, including 11 significant breaches. This is an increase of 27% (172) on the 646 breaches reported in 2014–15. Around two-thirds (68%) of Code Subscribers self-reported one or more breaches of the Code, up from 61% in the previous reporting period. Around one-third (37%) of Code Subscribers reported between one and ten Code breaches. 30% of self-reported breaches related to privacy obligations.

89% of Code Subscribers self-reported 14,100 complaints handled through their internal dispute resolution process. This is a 16% decrease from the 16,709 complaints reported in 2014–15. Almost three in ten complaints (31%) related to service issues, mirroring the high number of Code breaches self-reported for Key Promise 5 (‘We will deliver high customer service and standards’).

A comprehensive analysis of the data received via the ACS will be published in the Annual Report 2015–16 in December 2016.

Annual Compliance Statement Verification Program

Following the 2016 ACS, the Committee has commenced its ACS Verification Program. This is designed to validate Code Subscribers’ compliance programs, investigating how effectively they identify, report and remedy breaches of the Code. Participating Code Subscribers receive specific feedback on possible areas for improvement. 12 institutions have been selected to participate in this program which will be undertaken throughout November and December.

An additional Compliance Verification Program will be undertaken in February and March 2017 with ten of the largest (in excess of $1b assets) institutions. This program will provide those institutions with a benchmarking document that compares their breach and complaint reporting to other institutions of the same size as well as the industry in general.
Check out our website – www.cobccc.org.au
We now have specific information for consumers and Code Subscribers.

Check out how to comply with the Code regarding financial difficulty obligations, advertising standards and direct debit arrangements. Consider providing the fact sheets in the news and publications section to your staff for training purposes.

Consumer information includes explanations of customer rights under the Code, including the rights of customers in financial difficulty, as well as information for small business and instructions on how to report a concern. Meg’s story provides a good case study.

Diary dates

Committee meetings

29 November 2016 – Committee meets in Sydney

15 February 2017 – Committee meets in Melbourne

June 2017 – Committee meets in Melbourne

Sep 2017 – Committee meets in Sydney

Nov 2017 – Committee meets in Melbourne

 

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