Banks, whistleblowers and the Hayne inquiry

-- | 19/11/2019

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Glenn Freeman: I'm Glenn Freeman at the Morningstar Individual Investor Conference and I'm talking today to Adele Ferguson. Adele thank you very much for your time.

Adele Ferguson: Pleasure.

Freeman: Now in a session that we've just seen, just now you were talking about, obviously your book Banking Bad. One of the things that was discussed is a term that's often being associated with banks is too big to fail. And for a while there in the wake of the Royal Commission, it looked like maybe that was starting to come into question that maybe they aren't too big to be questioned. But then we've seen some changes that suggest otherwise. So, what's your take on that?

Ferguson: I think it's always an excuse too big to fail. If you're doing the wrong thing. You should be called to account and not worry – the regulators shouldn't be worried that they're going to fail if they intervene and start pulling the big stick at them. Look at CommBank with the money laundering, it got fined hundreds of millions of dollars. It didn't fail. So, it's an excuse that has been wheeled out, during the GFC. And time and time again, for regulators to go light.

Freeman: And we've seen in some other industries, we've probably seen some, like shareholder activism has kind of been probably bit more prevalent. We haven't seen so much of it in the banking sector, and maybe there needs to be more is that – do you see that happening.

Ferguson: I don't see it happening. What we had was, we've had a few strikes of the banks over the last couple of years as a protest for the bad behavior. But that's really all we've seen. We haven't seen anything else.

Freeman: I know the report that eventually was handed down by Kenneth Hayne was – it didn't go anywhere near as far as what we really – it should have or what we expected it to. And even the reforms that have been commended, they seem to be walked back slightly somewhat by the government already.

Ferguson: Absolutely. Well, mortgage broking is a case in point. There were big recommendations made about the mortgage broking industry in terms of commissions and upfront fees. That's all being stripped back. Yeah. That's what I think you know, often when you look at industries that are largely self-regulated, it just doesn't work. When you've got self-regulation, abuses happen.

Freeman: That seems to be the common denominator.

Ferguson: It does.

This report appeared on 2022 Morningstar Australasia Pty Limited

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