Abacus is the industry body for the mutual financial services sector, representing credit unions, mutual building societies, mutual banks and friendly societies. Abacus is owned by its member credit unions, mutual building societies and mutuals banks and aims to champion the interests of our members and to support the growth and competitiveness of mutuals in the financial services market.
Some current key issues facing the mutual financial services sector are:
Competition in the banking market remains an integral issue for Australians with the market dominance of the ‘big four’ banks. Credit unions, mutual building societies and mutual banks deliver professional and ethical banking to close to 4.6 million Australians already and these institutions are more essential than ever to maintain competition and give consumers choice. Without credit unions, mutual building societies and mutual banks, consumers would be left out in the cold.
Deposit guarantee scheme
Abacus supports the continuation of the deposit guarantee under the Financial Claims Scheme (FCS). Deposits with credit unions, mutual building societies and mutual banks of up to $250,000 will be covered on a permanent basis by the Government guarantee from 1 February 2012.
Abacus is encouraging the Government to facilitate access to funding by mutual ADIs by:
- promoting public understanding of the prudential regulatory framework and the status of mutual ADIs within that framework;
- taking further action to resuscitate securitisation markets;
- reducing the regulatory compliance burden on prudentially-regulated and responsible lenders such as mutual ADIs; and
- supporting smaller ADIs to access wholesale funding through securitisation and other means.
National Consumer Credit Legislation
Abacus supports the aims of the new federal consumer credit laws. A single harmonised regime, a level regulatory playing field for all credit providers, and access to low cost dispute resolution are all welcome and important steps to provide protection to consumers.
Abacus works on matters arising from the impact of the new Basel II capital accord to deposit insurance and APRA prudential supervision, including liquidity, governance and executive remuneration issues.
Abacus members support harmonised laws that protect consumers from unfair contract terms. We welcome recent changes that more fairly balance the rights of lenders and consumers.