People fleeing violent relationships, unexpectedly diagnosed with a long-term illness or at risk of elder financial abuse will be the focus of a new banking guideline to help vulnerable customers.
The Australian Banking Association (ABA) will on Wednesday open public consultation on the guideline – the latest move by banks to rebuild community trust in the wake of the royal commission, which uncovered widespread evidence of misconduct in the financial sector.
The ABA said the guideline would outline banks’ commitment to ensuring customers could access “appropriate banking products and services, which are suitable and fair for their circumstance”. It will be launched later in the year.
“There is no doubt the royal commission showed that banks need to lift their game when it comes to vulnerable customers, particularly in the design of products and offering of support services,” ABA chief executive Anna Bligh said.
Financial Counselling Australia CEO Fiona Guthrie said it was positive to see the banking industry working to better support vulnerable customers.
“At some point in our lives, many of us could find ourselves in situations that make us vulnerable –
financial hardship, physical or mental illness, relationship breakdown or even cognitive impairment as we age,” Ms Guthrie said. “We need to know that our banks will be there to support us through the good and the bad times.”