Inquiries into the financial services sector have cost the industry more than $3 billion since the global financial crisis, Sally Loane, chief executive officer of the FSC, told industry executives at a lunch in Melbourne organised by public relations firm Pritchitt Partners yesterday.

“Currently there is the Parliamentary Joint Committee Inquiry into Life Insurance, a three-stage Productivity Commission Review of Superannuation, another into Competition in the Australian financial system, and Labor’s Senate Economics Inquiry into Consumer Protections in Financial Services, all on-going. As well, there’s a taskforce conducting a review of ASIC’s enforcement powers – one in particular looking at industry consumer codes in our sector.

“The FSC is against calls for a Royal Commission.

“Royal commissions are a slow process, only look at past practice and inevitably go off at tangents.

“Any continuing reforms and changes in financial services are always needed quickly to keep up with the fast rate of change in the industry, not least because of technology and the rapidly changing needs and expectations of the community,” Ms Loane said.

Chris Bowen recently outlined Labor’s planned Royal Commission, making it clear that all superannuation funds would be included whilst also adding that they would do a stock take of APRA and ASIC.

Ms Loane questioned why this couldn’t be done with a more simple inquiry, instead of an expensive and time-consuming vehicle like a Royal Commission.

“Our sector has undertaken substantial reform and remediation and our view is that a Royal Commission into financial services is not necessary.

“We believe that the financial services industry as a whole has much to be proud of, having introduced standards and codes in recent years that will help deliver value, build trust in the community, and reduce the cost to Australians of managing financial affairs.

“We are uniquely placed to take up the mantle of consumer reform so that the government can get on with its job of governing. Proving as an industry we can regulate ourselves also strengthens consumer trust in the sector. In this light, we are concerned about a proposal that could act as a handbrake on self-regulation,” she said.

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