The final report of the Royal Commission into the Financial Services Sector was made public this afternoon and if you were thinking that the upshot was that everything was pretty much fine then you might want to sit down.
Short version of long, long report: the banks are complicit in a wholesale exploitation of the public because it turns out that when you let them regulate themselves and also build an entire incentive structure around individual greed then customer service gets rather bumped down the priority list, to a literally criminal degree.
“Misconduct, especially misconduct that yields profit, is not deterred by requiring those who are found to have done wrong to do no more than pay compensation,” Royal Commissioner Kenneth Hayne declared. “And wrongdoing is not denounced by issuing a media release.”
Will the government follow through on these recommendations? They have pledged to do so.
Of course, this is the government who fought tooth and nail to prevent the royal commission ever happening, as recently as Sunday were saying that they’d look at the recommendations but didn’t want to make too many changes lest they spook banks into not lending and/or awaken Finzor, the slumbering the demonic dragon-creature who rules over the financial services sector and must be obeyed lest he turn the economy to stone with his baleful gaze.
So let’s call that a “maybe”.
The one certainty that has come out of this is that Kenneth Hayne is the new hero that Australia needs.
Hayne is the Royal Commissioner responsible for said report, which was handed to the government on Friday. At the time there was a photo op with Josh Frydenberg where the affable Treasurer attempted to play nice and suggested a handshake – presumably to indicate that he and Hayne were partners in making a better nation.
And Hayne said, quietly but forcefully, “nope”. Oddly, it’s even better than that sounds.
And now, given the contents of the report, we know why: the government’s insistence that everything was basically fine and sure there were a few bad apples but banks were footling them out as part of the self-regulation process was exactly as patently ridiculous as it sounded before then-PM Malcolm Turnbull gave up and called the Royal Commission.
Might the government have hoped to have gone to an election before this got released? They might indeed!
Let’s see what actual changes come out of it, shall we? And who’s betting on “few”?