Ep 105: Is the banking industry rotten?
The Royal Commission into financial services is making front page news. But what does the commission reveal about financial institutions, greed and the lives of everyday Australians? Can the industry be changed?
Bigger Questions host Robert Martin talks with News Corp journalist Elizabeth Redman (who was seconded to cover the Royal Commission) and lawyer Mark Sneddon (who has had a long interest in banking regulation).
A fantastic conversation where we ask Elizabeth and Mark some bigger questions about one of the top topics of conversation in Melbourne today.
More about our guests
Elizabeth Redman is a journalist with News Corp Australia and works as property reporter for The Australian. She has written for specialist business and investing publications Business Spectator and Eureka Report, was seconded to cover the Banking Royal Commission.
Mark Sneddon is a partner in a law firm with over 25 years' experience in banking and financial services, fintech and e-business, business regulation and government services.
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Bigger questions asked in the conversation
Now today we have a News Corp journalist and a lawyer talking about the banking industry being rotten, but aren’t News Corp and lawyers just as, if not more, rotten?
I thought we’d test you on how much you know about ‘royal commissions’.
Background on the Royal Commission
So presently we have a Royal Commission into financial services, and its terms of reference are broader than just banks. But Mark, what exactly is a Royal Commission? It’s different from a normal court case isn’t it? There’s no judge or jury?
So why a royal commission into financial services? Why did it come about?
What is the point of the commission?
Did we need one?
Observation and analysis
So Elizabeth, you were seconded by The Australian newspaper to cover the commission. What was that like?
What did you see?
You even got a front page article?
Why do you think there is such a level of public interest?
So what’s caused these problems? Is it a failure of procedure, regulation, or something deeper?
The Bible’s reflection - the love of money
Today’s big question is: Is the banking industry rotten? And perhaps surprisingly the Bible offers a potential explanation for why the commission is necessary.
In a New Testament letter written by the Apostle Paul - 1 Timothy - Paul writes,
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.
So Elizabeth and Mark, what do you make of this? Do you think this diagnoses the underlying problems with the financial services industry?
Is part of the problem of people wanting to get rich with foolish and harmful desires?
Perhaps a deeper and more foundational challenge is found in the Old Testament book of Jeremiah which describes the human condition. Jeremiah 17:9 says
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
If this is true, does this mean that regulation is pointless?
Can it be changed?
So what can be done? Can the industry be changed?
The Big Question
So Elizabeth and Mark: is the banking industry rotten?