RBA Governor calls on banks to help post-COVID-19 recovery

author-avatar By on May 21, 2020
RBA Governor calls on banks to help post-COVID-19 recovery

Image source: Newtown grafitti, Flickr

Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe has called on Australia's banks to not be afraid to lend, as Australians begin to move out of COVID-19 restrictions.

Speaking via Webinar in a special session of Australia's financial regulators, Dr Lowe reiterated the importance of banks and lenders using their existing capital and liquidity buffers to help the Australian economy. 

These buffers, strictly compulsory under Australian banking laws, essentially act as rainy day funds for the banks to keep topped up for use in case of an emergency.    

"If there was ever a time to allow these buffers to be used, now is that time," Dr Lowe said. 

"We should not expect to see capital buffers be maintained during a once-in-a-century shock.

"These buffers have been built up to be utilised in events such as this, and some reduction in capital ratios is entirely appropriate as lenders support their customers through this difficult period."

Buying a home or looking to refinance? The table below features home loans with some of the lowest variable interest rates on the market for owner occupiers.

Lender
Advertised rate Comparison rate Monthly repayment Rate TypeOffsetRedrawOngoing FeeUpfront FeesLVRLump Sum RepaymentAdditional RepaymentsPre-approval
VariableMore details
LIMITED TIME OFFER

Smart Booster Home Loan Discounted Variable - 2yr (LVR < 80%)

  • Fast turnaround times, can meet 30-day settlement
  • For purchase and refinance, min 20% deposit
  • No ongoing or monthly fees, add offset for 0.10%
LIMITED TIME OFFER

Smart Booster Home Loan Discounted Variable - 2yr (LVR < 80%)

  • Fast turnaround times, can meet 30-day settlement
  • For purchase and refinance, min 20% deposit
  • No ongoing or monthly fees, add offset for 0.10%
VariableMore details
100% FULL OFFSET ACCOUNTNO APPLICATION FEE OR ONGOING FEES

Low Rate Home Loan - Prime (Principal and Interest) (Owner Occupied) (LVR < 60%)

  • No upfront or ongoing fees
  • 100% full offset account
  • Extra repayments + redraw services
100% FULL OFFSET ACCOUNTNO APPLICATION FEE OR ONGOING FEES

Low Rate Home Loan - Prime (Principal and Interest) (Owner Occupied) (LVR < 60%)

  • No upfront or ongoing fees
  • 100% full offset account
  • Extra repayments + redraw services
VariableMore details
REFINANCE IN MINUTES, NOT WEEKS

Nano Home Loans Variable Owner Occupied, Principal and Interest (Refinance Only)

  • Refinance only. Fast online application
  • No Nano fees. Free 100% offset sub account
  • Mobile app, Visa debit card & instant payments
REFINANCE IN MINUTES, NOT WEEKS

Nano Home Loans Variable Owner Occupied, Principal and Interest (Refinance Only)

  • Refinance only. Fast online application
  • No Nano fees. Free 100% offset sub account
  • Mobile app, Visa debit card & instant payments
VariableMore details
YOU COULD WIN $100k TO PAY DOWN YOUR LOAN*

Owner Occupier Accelerates - Celebrate (LVR < 60%) (Principal and Interest)

  • For a chance to win $100K towards your home loan, apply with Athena before Oct 31 & be approved by Dec 15
  • We lower your rate based off how much you’ve paid down your loan
  • Automatic rate match
YOU COULD WIN $100k TO PAY DOWN YOUR LOAN*

Owner Occupier Accelerates - Celebrate (LVR < 60%) (Principal and Interest)

  • For a chance to win $100K towards your home loan, apply with Athena before Oct 31 & be approved by Dec 15
  • We lower your rate based off how much you’ve paid down your loan
  • Automatic rate match
VariableMore details
AN EASY ONLINE APPLICATION

Yard Home Loan (Principal and Interest) (Special) (LVR < 70%)

  • Unlimited additional repayments
  • Unlimited free redraws
  • Optional 100% offset can be added for $120 p.a.^
AN EASY ONLINE APPLICATION

Yard Home Loan (Principal and Interest) (Special) (LVR < 70%)

  • Unlimited additional repayments
  • Unlimited free redraws
  • Optional 100% offset can be added for $120 p.a.^

Rates correct as of October 18, 2021. View disclaimer.

Dr Lowe spoke on behalf of the Council of Financial Regulators, which includes the likes of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), the Australian Treasury and the RBA.

"We are living through the biggest and the most sudden economic contraction since the 1930s," he said. 

"Last week we had a stark reminder of the very human cost of these efforts, with almost 600,000 jobs lost in April and more than 750,000 Australians on zero hours. All up, total hours worked in Australia fell by an unprecedented 9 per cent in April.

"One obvious source of uncertainty is the pace at which the various restrictions are eased. The faster that the restrictions can be lifted safely, the sooner and stronger the economic bounce-back will be and the less economic scarring will take place."

He said it is important that banks continue to support the flow of credit into the economy, as consumer confidence does not appear to be high despite the economy beginning to reopen, and that people have large degrees of uncertainty about the health of their own finances. 

"It is interesting that the initial evidence is that countries that have had fewer restrictions are also experiencing very large contractions in economic activity," he said. 

"This suggests that voluntary decisions that people have made in response to the uncertainty about their health and their finances is also playing a major role.

"In the face of this uncertainty, people have been reluctant to go out and spend and businesses have been reluctant to invest."

Dr Lowe also said there's a limit to what can be achieved through monetary policy, such as cash rate cuts, highlighting the important role Australia's financial institutions have to play in helping the economy emerge from COVID-19. 

"As part of this effort, it is both understandable and desirable that lenders draw on the buffers that were built up in better times," he said. 

"It is in the banks' own interest and in the interest of the broader Australian community that banks support their customers now and also support them in the recovery phase when credit will be needed so that businesses can once again expand."


APRA Chairman Wayne Byres shared Dr Lowe's opinion, and said that the strength of Australia's financial system has been critical to its COVID-19 response. 

"That strength is the product of a concerted and persistent effort by the industry, reinforced by regulators, to build-up resilience during the good times," Mr Byres said. 

"The age-old adage of saving for a rainy day is never more apt than now. We’re glad we did it, even though it wasn’t always easy or popular at the time."

ASIC Chair James Shipton meanwhile said it expects banks and lenders to continue to treat customers fairly during and after the COVID-19 crisis. 

"There has never been a greater need for the financial services industry to live up to the professional expectations of the community," he said.

"More than ever before, we – and the community – expect financial services professionals to perform their crucial roles competently and conscientiously."

Australian banks have already done a lot to support Australians during the coronavirus crisis, with the Australian Banking Association (ABA) reporting that its 22 member banks have deferred payments of nearly half a million mortgages.

In total, ABA member banks have deferred a total of 643,000 loans worth more than $200 billion. 


Disclaimers

The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered which includes retail products from at least the big four banks, the top 10 customer-owned institutions and Australia’s larger non-banks:

  • The big four banks are: ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac
  • The top 10 customer-owned Institutions are the ten largest mutual banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia, ranked by assets under management in November 2020. They are (in descending order): Great Southern Bank, Newcastle Permanent, Heritage Bank, Peoples’ Choice Credit Union, Teachers Mutual Bank, Greater Bank, IMB Bank, Beyond Bank, Bank Australia and P&N Bank.
  • The larger non-bank lenders are those who (in 2020) has more than $9 billion in Australian funded loans and advances. These groups are: Resimac, Pepper, Liberty and Firstmac.
  • If you click on a product link and you are referred to a Product or Service Provider’s web page, it is highly likely that a commercial relationship exists between that Product or Service Provider and Savings.com.au

Some providers' products may not be available in all states. To be considered, the product and rate must be clearly published on the product provider's web site.

In the interests of full disclosure, Savings.com.au, Performance Drive and Loans.com.au are part of the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings.com.au manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please click through onto the web site links.

*Comparison rate is based on a loan of $150,000 over a term of 25 years. Please note the comparison rate only applies to the examples given. Different loan amounts and terms will result in different comparison rates. Costs such as redraw fees and costs savings, such as fee waivers, are not included in the comparison rate but may influence the cost of the loan.

Latest Articles

author-avatar
William Jolly joined Savings.com.au as a Financial Journalist in 2018, after spending two years at financial research firm Canstar. In William's articles, you're likely to find complex financial topics and products broken down into everyday language. He is deeply passionate about improving the financial literacy of Australians and providing them with resources on how to save money in their everyday lives.

Be Savings smart.
Subscribe for free money newsletters.

By subscribing you agree to the Savings Privacy Policy