Big 4 Banks face government review

Big 4 Banks face government review

This week will be a big one for the heads of Australia’s Big Four banks who will be facing the Federal Parliament’s House of Representatives Economic Committee for a review of the way in which they balance the needs of customers, shareholders and the broader community.

The banks have been embroiled in various scandals over the past year including those involving life insurance policies and their failure to pass cash rate cuts on to home loan borrowers. There have been calls from the Labour party to conduct a Royal Commission into the banking sector and this review will give the banks a chance to try and prove that it would not be necessary. 

The review will take place over the next three days with the head of each major bank having their chance to explain their position. It is hoped that this will give the public a chance to understand some of the banking industry’s decisions that have recently been called into question. 

The four main topics highlighted for discussion by the committee are the international and domestic market developments that relate to the Australian banking sector; developments in prudential regulation and how these will affect Australian banks; the cost of funds impacts on margins and the basis for bank pricing decisions; and how banks are currently responding to previously raised issues such as enhancing consumer protection, government reforms and actions by regulators.

There’s a lot of material for the review to get through over three days and for customers it may be hard to follow exactly what implications these discussions will have on their bottom line until the reviews conclusion.

Borrowers and savers alike no doubt have their own grievances to air with the Big 4. Also, with Australia currently having the largest amount of household debt of any developed nation, and most of this debt being tied up with the Big 4 Banks, it’s fair to say that making sure we have transparency and regulation across the sector is absolutely necessary.

For customers around the nation, answers to questions like what sort of commission are bank workers getting for selling us loans and why won’t the bank pass us our full rate cut on our home loans but savers get their interest rates slashed repeatedly, will be eagerly awaited.

This graph from the ABC also shows a worrying trend in that our personal debt, far from being paid off, is being shifted into other banking products, most likely to be paid back over longer terms.

And while the amount of debt we take on may be considered our own “fault” what about the way in which new credit cards, credit increases and other such banking products a marketed to vulnerable customers?

The next three days will hopefully provide some insights into the way the banks view these issues and what customers can expect going forward.

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Where can I get a personal loan?

The Australian personal loans market contains dozens of lenders offering several hundred different products. Personal loans are available through a range of institutions, including:

There are three main ways to access personal loans. You can go through a comparison website, such as RateCity. You can use a finance broker. Or you can directly contact the lender.

Can I include my spouse’s income on a personal loan?

If you apply for a joint personal loan with your spouse, you can include their income on the application. If approved, they then become jointly liable for the loan.

Both you and your spouse need to meet the eligibility criteria, such as income, age, and residency requirements, as stipulated by the lender. A joint loan could increase your chance of approval for a higher amount, as both borrowers’ incomes are assessed when determining borrowing capacity. 

Is a personal loan a variable or fixed-rate loan?

Depending on the personal loan lender, you may be able to choose between a fixed and a variable interest rate. But, there are a few distinct differences between the two, so it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before deciding on what’s right for you.

A fixed interest rate loan gets you the convenience of knowing exactly how much you need to repay each fortnight or month. On the other hand, you generally won’t be able to make lump sum or advanced payments to close your personal loan early - or at least not without a penalty.

With a variable interest rate personal loan, you may be able to get a longer loan repayment term, with the option of paying off the loan early. You typically won’t need to pay any additional charges for an early full repayment either. The potential disadvantage with an interest rate that can change is that your repayment is not entirely predictable, as it can fluctuate with the market. However, you’ll likely have more options as more lenders offer a variable interest rate personal loan.

Can I merge my personal loan with my home loan?

Yes, you can refinance your home loan and, in the process, merge or consolidate your personal loan and home loan. By doing so, you can lower the number of debts you have, and you may also reduce the total interest you have to pay.

However, you should consult a financial advisor or a mortgage broker to confirm that you are decreasing your total outstanding debt, including interest payments. The repayment term for a home loan can be much longer than that for a personal loan, and by merging the two, you could be repaying a higher amount over the full term.

What do single mothers need to apply for a personal loan?

Like other personal loan applicants, single mothers will likely need to provide a few documents to any potential lender, such as personal identification, bank statements (savings, loans, credit cards), proof of address, and proof of income (payslips, tax returns).

How can I get a $3000 loan approved?

Responsible lenders don’t have guaranteed approval for personal loans and medium amount loans, as the lender will want to check that you can afford the loan repayments on your current income without ending up in financial hardship.

Having a good credit score can increase the likelihood of your personal loan application being approved. Bad credit borrowers who opt for a medium amount loan with no credit checks may need to prove they can afford the repayments on their current income. Centrelink payments may not count, so you should check with the lender prior to making an application.

Can I get a $2000 loan on Centrelink?

If more than half of your income comes from Centrelink benefits, it may be more difficult to have a $2000 loan application approved. Many lenders will check if you can afford a loan’s repayments on the income from your job before they’ll approve an application, and many won’t count Centrelink payments when assessing your income for this purpose.

Some lenders may offer $2000 loans to borrowers on Centrelink – consider contacting potential lenders to check before applying.

Can I get a fast loan if I’m unemployed or on Centrelink?

Even if a lender has no credit checks, they will usually still need to confirm you can afford to repay a fast loan on your income before they’ll approve your application.

If 50% or more of your income comes from Centrelink payments, you may find it more difficult to have a fast loan application approved. Consider checking with the lender before applying to confirm if they lend to people on Centrelink.

Will comprehensive credit reporting change my credit score?

Comprehensive credit reporting may change your credit score, either positively or negatively, depending on an individual's situation.

Under comprehensive credit reporting, credit providers will share more information, both positive and negative, about how you and other Australians manage credit products. That means credit reporting bureaus will be able to make a more thorough assessment of everyone’s credit behaviour. That will lead to higher scores for some consumers and lower scores for others.

What can quick loans be used for?

Many borrowers use quick loans to cover short-term or urgent costs, such as paying for car repairs, medical bills, or replacing broken appliances or electronics. Quick loans often have high interest rates compared with regular personal loans.

Before applying for a quick loan, consider your other available options, such as working out a payment plan or applying for an advance or extension. 

Can you pay off a quick loan early?

Many lenders will allow you to make extra repayments onto a quick personal loan when you can afford them, or even exit the loan early, which can help reduce the total interest you are charged. Be sure to check your quick loan’s terms and conditions, as some lenders charge early exit fees for paying off a loan ahead of schedule.

How long do personal loans take?

Depending on the lender, some personal loan applications can be approved in as little as one hour, or you may need to wait until the next business day. If approved, you may receive your money on the same day, the next business day, or within the week.

Are there low doc personal loans?

Self-employed borrowers may be eligible for low doc personal loans, which require less documentation in their application process than many other personal loan options.

It’s important to remember that though low doc personal loans may require less paperwork, you may need to provide additional security, or pay a higher interest rate.

Can I get a fast loan with bad credit?

Some lenders offer fast loans to borrowers with bad credit. Providers of small payday loans of up to $2000 or medium amount loans of up to $5000 may have no credit checks, though these lenders will usually want to confirm you can afford its loans on your income.