Royal Commission Triggers Relief Rally In Financials

Commbank is one of the banks under scrutiny.. Image Getty Images

Commbank is one of the banks under scrutiny.. Image Getty Images

In a report released by the government on Monday, the retired judge who led a public inquiry into financial-sector misconduct a year ago, referred 24 cases to regulators for possible prosecution.

Shares in the major banks on the Australian share market are surging today, in a "relief rally" following the release of the final report of the financial services royal commission.

Thorburn conceded mistakes had been made and said the report's criticism "does not reflect who I am or how I am leading".

National Australia Bank's boss, Andrew Thorburn, has said he believes his attitude and leadership to be the "polar opposite" of how the banking royal commissioner, Kenneth Hayne, described him, and he remains "determined" to stay on in the bank's top job.

The inquiry heard accounts of aggressive sales tactics and charging customers fees for no service.

While the changes are likely to make the financial sector more liable to be punished for violations, banks in the world's fourteenth-biggest economy have been spared any enforced breakup or interference in the way they choose to lend money.

Regulators also needed greater oversight after they were accused of working too closely with the banks.

Veteran bank analyst Brian Johnson of CLSA believes the recommendations of the Royal Commission report are broadly in line with his expectations and given the banks have already begun to implement numerous recommendations (and their share prices already de-rated), he thinks banks stock prices could now move higher.

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Investment for emissions regulations, reduced sales forecasts and Brexit uncertainty were cited as reasons for the decision. Mr Ramsbotham said: "The automotive sector in this country is vitally important and needs to be protected".

Australia's Federal Government has said it will implement the recommendations which include a dramatic shake-up of the mortgage broking industry.

"It's a scathing assessment of conduct driven by greed, which fell far below community expectations", Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said. "It would be a bit milder than expected".

"It beggars belief that a royal commission set up to look at the banks' failure to act appropriately has been turned around so that brokers are now potentially the biggest losers", Mr Bailey said.

The government is fighting for its survival with opinion polls suggesting an election victory for the centre-left Labour party.

While Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also said he will take up the recommendations, he has warned against overreaching and cutting off credit flows.

Recommendation 1.6 adds, "Misconduct by mortgage brokers ACL holders should: • be bound by information-sharing and reporting obligations in respect of mortgage brokers similar to those referred to in recommendations 2.7 and 2.8 for financial advisers; and • take the same steps in response to detecting misconduct of a mortgage broker as those referred to in Recommendation 2.9 for financial advisers".

Australian Banking Association chief Anna Bligh said banks "accept full responsibility for these failings and they know that they must now change to ensure that this never happens again".

"Having heard from both the CEO, Mr Thorburn, and the chair, Dr Henry, I am not as confident as I would wish to be that the lessons of the past have been learned", his report said.

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