19 August 2019
Heritage Bank today welcomed the financial sector reforms outlined by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg but issued a reminder to the Government that competition must continue to be encouraged as one of the best ways to restore trust in the sector.
“As the largest mutual bank in Australia, and one that punches well above its weight, Heritage is fully supportive of the reform agenda and implementation roadmap issued by the Treasurer today.
“We note that the roadmap focuses on strengthening and expanding protection for consumers, with today’s outline concentrating on legislative responses designed to achieve ensure fair treatment and address conflicts of interest,” said Heritage CEO Peter Lock.
He said Heritage supports the roadmap’s plan to create a best interests duty for mortgage brokers, noting this group remains an important part of the bank’s successful national expansion.
“In our view, consumers are best served by having optimal access to great value and choice among providers in the financial services sector. The Government can underpin this approach by encouraging competition through mutuals such as Heritage who offer a genuine alternative,” Mr Lock said.
“In particular, consumers would be best served if Canberra continued to recognise that regulation should be applied with a lighter touch to those smaller operations who were not singled out in the Hayne Royal Commission.
“This will go a very long way to achieving greater competition and a level playing field in the bank sector. We will do our bit by offering great service, products and customer attention without the inherent conflict that listed banks face between the best interests of shareholders and customers.
Mr Lock said the Government’s ongoing commitment to reform in the financial sector has been a factor in its decision to continue with its national expansion which will include the opening of new branches in Sydney later this year, and in Melbourne over the next few years.
“Bucking the industry trend by opening bricks and mortar branches in very competitive markets not only reflects our confidence in the products and service we offer but also that policymakers and politicians will continue to focus on what is in the best interests of consumers.” Mr Lock said.