23 December 2021

Ombudsman welcomes review of Banking Code Compliance Committee

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson has welcomed the final report of the independent review of the Banking Code Compliance Committee (BCCC), which includes recommendations to improve small business representation and engagement.

A key recommendation in the Khoury review is the addition of a fourth member on the committee with expertise in small business.

The final report also includes a recommendation to revitalise the BCCC’s engagement with the small business and agribusiness advisory panel, highlighting a need to incorporate systematic ways of engaging with the panel particularly when developing strategy and planning inquiries

“We welcome the final report of the independent review of the BCCC, noting the adoption of two significant recommendations my office has advocated for,” Mr Billson says.

“Having a committee member with expertise in small business will provide balanced representation and help the BCCC meet community expectations.

“We are equally encouraged by the final report’s recommendation for the BCCC to engage more with the small business and agribusiness advisory panel, particularly when planning and conducting inquiries.

“The panel is critical to the committee’s purpose to monitor and drive best practice Code compliance. A greater understanding of the unique challenges faced by small business customers will enhance the work of the BCCC and help meet the needs of the small business community.”

In addition to the review of the Banking Code Compliance Committee, Mr Billson also welcomes the Callaghan review of the Banking Code, which includes recommendations around access to banking services.

“While there is work to do to improve relationships between small business customers and banks, and de-banking is still an issue for certain small business sectors,” Mr Billson says.

“The Code review recommends seeking a commitment from banks to communicate with the customer before denying a banking service or closing an account, with an opportunity for the customer to respond, in accordance with AUSTRAC guidance. In the case where a service is denied, or account closed, it recommends the bank give a reason. It finds these decisions should be on a case-by-case basis.

“My office also supports the recommendation the BCCC consider conducting an inquiry into banks’ performance in accordance with these commitments.”