The Customer Owned Banking Code of Practice (the Code) is a code of practice for Australia’s customer owned banking institutions which include mutual building societies, credit unions, mutual banks and other authorised deposit taking institutions. Customer owned banking institutions hold over $100 billion in assets and represent four million customers. Through the Code, 70 subscribing institutions voluntarily commit to fair and responsible customer owned banking practices.

The Customer Owned Banking Code Compliance Committee (the Committee) is an independent Committee responsible for monitoring and reporting on compliance with the Code.

The Committee has recently conducted an inquiry into Key Promise 9 of the Code which reflects the customer owned banking sector’s commitment to serving both its communities and its customers.

This inquiry developed a better understanding of how institutions manage this obligation, the identification and promotion of good business practices for engaging with communities and the assessment of the effectiveness of institutions’ impact on the wider community. It benchmarks current industry practice and makes recommendations for good industry practice based on the data collected.

The inquiry confirmed that the customer owned banking sector is community focused, reflecting its history and the culture and frameworks that underpin its dealing with customers.

Some of the key findings include:

  1. Many institutions reported that they engage with over 100 different community groups on an annual and ongoing basis.
  2. Over 50% of institutions engage with communities on a weekly or monthly basis.
  3. 73% of institutions spent more than $20,000 on community engagement activities including 19% of the largest institutions that spent over $500,000 during the 2014-15 period.
  4. Philanthropic or voluntary community engagement, where the engagement does not provide direct benefit to the institution is wide-spread.
  5. Community engagement brings benefits to both communities and institutions – increasing community trust and cohesion.

A copy of the report can be found here Own Motion Inquiry ‘Community Engagement’.