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Banking inquiry urged to prioritise regulation


28/10/2013

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Managing Director, Mike Hirst, welcomed the Abbott Government's financial services inquiry at the company's Annual General Meeting in Bendigo today.

Mr Hirst said he'd like to see the review create a framework to help the industry prioritise regulation. He believes if this can be achieved, competition in the Australian banking sector will flourish.

"I think we punch well above our weight, and in the past few years that's included having to fight with one hand tied behind our back, as regulatory intervention has often favoured larger industry participants.

"It should be obvious that the impost of regulation is more acute the smaller an institution is, simply because there is a certain fixed cost of regulation that is diluted depending on how many transactions it is spread across it's just unit costing after all.

"It's vital the inquiry turns its collective mind to the sheer weight of regulation that's being driven through the industry and the cost of that to business and consumers.

"Perhaps an outcome of the review could be a queue of mandated industry-wide change, which provides a hierarchy of priorities for both government and industry to work towards," he said.

Mr Hirst added there's a misconception that Australia's financial sector isn't competitive, when the real issue is that there's an uneven playing field.

"I can assure you the market is very competitive, however, size is a powerful ally in any endeavour.

"In our industry it provides larger players with funding and regulatory advantages that ultimately restrict consumer choice," he said.

Chairman, Robert Johanson, said the emergence of new technologies also has the potential to challenge the industry.

"The biggest competitive threats to banks now come from non-banks in areas like payments systems where companies, unrestrained by regulatory burdens and compliance, can pick lucrative niches to exploit.

"To retain our unique position in the marketplace, we must continually adapt, grow and improve. That's a real focus for our Bank," he said.

Shareholders at the AGM voted to elect new director Rob Hubbard and re-elect Robert Johanson, Jim Hazel and David Matthews. They passed the Remuneration Report and approved the Managing Director's equity grants.

To view the proxy results or read the Chairman and Managing Director's addresses in full go to www.asx.com.au. To watch the AGM webcast visit www.bendigoadelaide.com.au.