Banks

Australia’s banking system emerged from the GFC relatively intact, thanks to Australia’s comparative strength at that time. Today, the banking sector represents a huge part of the Australian market.

Despite this, Australians have generally been kept in the dark about their practices and sky-high profit margins.

An important feature of Australian banking is the high amount of debt from the residential sector. Housing loans have been the Aussie bank’s bread and butter for decades, and the housing boom has put a rocket under their profits.

Now, however, there is growing concern that the wealth created by this over-

reliance on housing could have dire consequences, especially if the housing bubble were to burst.

Australians are rightly asking themselves about the balance between competition and regulation in the banking system.

After years of public pressure, the Royal Commission’s inquiry into Australia’s financial services has revealed a culture of malpractice and misconduct throughout the banking system.

And the ‘big four’ — National Australia Bank (NAB) Commonwealth Bank (CBA) Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) and Westpac (WBC) — are seen as the worst offenders.

The inquiry has found evidence of improper lending practices, bribery and outright fraud. The actions of unregulated financial advisors and planners has also been called into question.

These revelations have profoundly affected the amount of regulation and competition allowed within the banking sector.

Other forces such as the Asian market, technology, and consumer behaviour are also changing the face of Australian banking.

With luck, the commission’s findings could herald positives changes, both for consumers and the financial industries.

The future of banking in Australia

The examination into banking practices could also signal wider systematic change, with loan and credit conditions tightening as the banks are forced to become more ‘responsible’. A system that balances opportunity and risk could be the best way forward to even out profits and consumer welfare.

Here at Markets & Money we continue to run a skeptical eye over the banks, the credit market and Aussie housing regularly, to make sure you’re never vulnerable to the disasters banks get themselves into all too often.

Below you’ll find all the latest news and analysis on the subject.

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Markets & Money