The objective of the Customer Owned Banking Code of Practice is to ensure high customer service standards are maintained for the benefit of consumers and to increase trust and confidence in the customer owned banking industry.

We believe that educating others and sharing experiences helps to improve industry practice.

We do this by:

  • investigating Code breaches
  • engaging with stakeholders
  • highlighting good and bad practices
  • sharing experiences and information
  • identifying emerging risks and issues
  • guiding compliance improvements.

The COBCCC engages with Code subscribers, industry, regulators and consumer advocates.

Every year, we engage with Code subscribers to discuss their completion of the Annual Compliance Statement and to seek clarification of their data and responses.

The COBCCC also communicates with Code subscribers through our  publications.

We hold regular meetings with executive staff and ombudsmen from the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) and present at various AFCA banking open forums on Code matters.

The COBCCC meets with stakeholders in our industry including COBA, ASIC and Treasury.

We also meet regularly with consumer advocates.

The COBCCC’s expectations of subscribers

Following a review of an alleged Code breach, the Committee expects Code subscribers to:

  • positively engage with the COBCCC
  • thoroughly review the incident to assess if it constitutes a breach of the Code
  • report the breach in their breach register (if a breach of the Code has occurred)
  • report the breach to executive management
  • identify all customers potentially affected by the events
  • assess if the breach is systemic and/or significant
  • take remedial action to address the cause of non-compliance
  • review and enhance processes and procedure
  • train staff and authorised representatives accordingly.

Why the COBCCC investigates

Our investigations determine if a customer owned banking institution has complied with its Code obligations when providing customer owned banking services and products to consumers.

Our focus is on helping customer owned banking institutions fix any issues to reduce impact on customers in the future.

The COBCCC does not:

  • provide compensation – that is the role of external dispute resolution bodies such as the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) or courts and tribunals
  • issue fines or penalties – that is the role of regulators such as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

When the COBCCC investigates

We can only investigate in the following circumstances:

  • the customer owned banking institution must be a subscriber to the Code
  • the service took place in Australia
  • the matter must involve an individual or small business
  • the issue must be covered in the Code.

We have compiled a list of resources that may help customer owned banks.

RG271 Internal dispute resolution

A dispute resolution procedure that complies with standards, and requirements, made or approved by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission. An update to this regulatory guide is available here.

Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)

AFCA is a fair and independent external dispute resolution (EDR) service for consumers. It replaced the Financial Ombudsmen Service (FOS).

Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA)

COBA is the peak body of the customer owned banking profession in Australia.

Small Australian Mutuals Network (SAM)

SAM Network is a collective of smaller customer-owned banking organisations, working together to provide alternative banking solutions. ​

Mutuals Audit & Governance Professionals Institute (MAGPI)

MAGPI is an organisation for audit, risk and governance professions from within the mutual industry and serves as a body that aims to promote the internal audit professional and provide assistance to professionals in mutuals.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)

ASIC is an independent Australian Government body set up to administer the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001.

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC)

OAIC is the independent national regulator for privacy and freedom of information.

Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA)

APRA is an independent statutory authority that supervises institutions across banking, insurance and superannuation.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

The ACCC is Australia’s competition regulator and national consumer law advocate.