I believed that there had been irregularities and injustices over a considerable period, I had experienced some myself, but felt that changes were finally being made and that a Royal Commission was too blunt an instrument to address the problem. Boy, was I wrong. Before going on, here are a few of the stories from the last few days:
- ABC News: News Banking royal commissioner warns CBA for failing to answer questions about bogus financial advice fees
- The Guardian: Banking royal commission: CBA agrees it is the 'gold medallist' at fees for no service
- The Guardian: Banking royal commission: AMP executive says company put profits before the law
- The Guardian: Banking royal commission told 90% of financial advisers ignored clients' best interests
- Financial Review: Banking royal commission exposes AMP's burning platforms
- Financial Review: CBA's systems 'so hopeless', banking royal commission hears
- ABC News: Treasurer Scott Morrison 'deeply distressed' by AMP's evidence to banking royal commission
We have talked here before about problems in the banking and financial services sector. Just based on the evidence to this point, those problems would appear to be far deeper and more systemic than I had realised. kvd might say told you so!
I said systemic because there are clearly inter-related problems including:
- problems with IT platforms
- lags in recognising problems and then in responding especially where there are response costs or reduced income or a combination of the two
- incentive scales and performance measures that, in combination with cross-selling arrangements, encourage behaviour that disadvantages customers
- ethical problems at individual and organisation levels where the pursuit of the sale becomes dominant to the exclusion of everything else. I couldn't help thinking here of the old saying that a fish rots from the head. .
I think that one of the problems in all this is going to be the avoidance or at least minimisation of new layers that simply increase costs and reduce choice, especially for the smaller investor.