Watchdog says Aussie banks falling short

Pedestrians walk past the Reserve Bank of Australia building in central Sydney. — Reuters

SYDNEY: Australia’s market watchdog has told banks they are falling short with the support they give to people struggling to pay their mortgages.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said 10 of the country’s largest home loan lenders in some cases didn’t follow up with customers who had reached out for help, abandoning those in need of support, according to a report released Monday.

“This report highlights that lenders must improve the way they deal with customers experiencing hardship,” ASIC Chair Joe Longo said in the report.

Investors and regulators have closely watched Australia’s largest listed banks for any signs the central bank’s restrictive monetary policy is harming customers and impacting the quality of outstanding loans.

While the biggest lenders have reported only a small increase in arrears, questions remain about the health of non-bank lenders in a fiercely competitive mortgage market.

The 10 lenders reviewed for the report included three of the big four, including Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank Ltd, and Westpac Banking Corp as well as the fast-growing Macquarie Bank Ltd. and regional lenders. — Bloomberg

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