Yet again this week, the Hayne Royal Commission has brought disturbing news of misconduct toward customers of our largest financial institutions. This time super accounts have been plundered for the benefit of shareholders.
Recent research from economists at the United States Federal Reserve suggests this problem is not unique to Australia. If true, this supports the argument that larger financial institutions should be broken up or face more regulatory scrutiny.
The researchers found that larger banking organisations are more likely than their smaller peers to experience “operational losses”. And by far the most significant category (accounting for a massive 79%) within operational losses was “Clients, Products and Business Practices”.
This category captures losses from “an unintentional or negligent failure to meet a professional obligation to specific clients, or from the nature or design of a product”. When a bank is caught out engaging in misconduct toward customers, it is required to make good to customers – the so-called process of remediation.
It’s a category that perfectly captures the issues under review in the royal commission. Operational losses also include things like fraud, damage to physical assets and system failures.
In recent weeks we have heard a lot about Australian banks having to compensate customers. The cost to the bank is, however, far greater than the dollar value received by customers.
The administrative costs of such programs are significant, and then there are legal costs and regulatory fines.