In its Annual Report, the Customer Owned Banking Code Compliance Committee (COBCCC) has highlighted the activities it has undertaken during the year to enhance accountability within the customer owned banking sector, leading to better customer outcomes.

Read the full Annual Report here.

The report noted that new challenges have prompted customer owned banking institutions to increase focus on vulnerable customers and the ways to support them.

Chair of the COBCCC, Jocelyn Furlan, said that the Committee’s work was having a positive impact on how customer owned banking institutions undertook their work. “By shining a light on practices and issues, we present customer owned banking institutions with opportunities to improve and deliver better outcomes for customers,” Ms Furlan said. “Escalating living costs, inflation, and the impact of natural disasters have intensified financial pressures, underlining the importance of support for customers.”

A key change for the sector in the 2022-23 reporting period was the introduction of an updated version of the Customer Owned Banking Code of Practice. Implementing the 2022 Code, with its increased focus on vulnerable customers, was a key pillar of the Committee’s work during the year. Encouragingly, the report found that there was a general level of preparedness within the industry for the adoption and implementation of the updated Code.

Of concern, the report found that there was still significant work to be done in other areas, with many customer owned banking institutions again reporting zero or very small numbers of breaches and complaints.

Ms Furlan urged these firms to improve their recording and reporting practices. “This is becoming a concerning trend,” Ms Furlan said. “It is important to be able to identify, report and learn from issues that arise from time to time. “Collecting quality data and reporting breaches is fundamental and a strong indicator of effective compliance frameworks and risk management in a customer owned banking institution.”

Ms Furlan emphasised that the effectiveness of the Code hinges on institutions identifying, reporting and addressing breaches swiftly. “The COBCCC is committed to working with institutions over the coming year to improve this area of performance with the ultimate goal of creating better outcomes for customers”.