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Australian banking report accused of being too soft

Author
Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Section
Audio,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 5 February 2019, 4:54PM
Shares have soared for the big Aussie banks despite a report into their behaviour being released yesterday. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Shares in the big four Australian banks have soared this morning on relief that the banking Royal Commission stopped short of recommending a major industry restructure.

ANZ shares were up 5.6 per cent - their biggest one-off gain in three years.

Westpac shares were up 4.7 per cent and Commonwealth Bank (which owns ASB in New Zealand) was up 4.9 per cent.

Shares in National Australia Bank (owner of BNZ) - which was widely considered to have been singled as worst offender by the Commission - have risen 3 per cent.

Shares in wealth manager AMP, which was savaged by the inquiry last year (after revelations it took fees for no service and lied to the regulator) , jumped over seven per cent.

While he slammed the culture and recommended a number of tough new rules, Commissioner Kenneth Hayne stopped short of calling for banks to be forcibly broken up to separate financial advice and wealth management from day to day banking.

"The big four banks have emerged relatively unscathed in terms of their core operations although further changes for remuneration of mortgage brokers will see change over a two to three-year period," Harbour Asset management's Andrew Bascand said in a report.

Bloomberg financial columnist David Fickling wrote: "the fearsome beast that's menaced Australia's financial services industry for the past year turns out to have been a paper tiger."

The Royal Commission has called for tougher regulation, more scrutiny of pay and has made 76 recommendations to overhaul the industry.

In a final report released this evening, the Commission found 24 instances of corporate behaviour which it has referred to the regulators for possible prosecution.

Australia's corporate regulators will also be subjected to a new oversight body.

Australia's Federal Government has said it will implement the recommendations which include a dramatic shake-up of the mortgage broking industry.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg slammed the banking culture which he said had "broken businesses" and the stress and personal pain that had "broken lives".

"It's a scathing assessment of conduct driven by greed and behaviour that was in breach of existing law and fell well below community expectations," he said.

 

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