CCCFA changes need to go further – Bankers Association

The Bankers Association welcomes changes announced last week to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCFA) but says they do not go far enough.

“It's not clear that they move the dial enough to make a difference,” according to the association chief executive Roger Beaumont.

The changes were announced after a storm of protest that a law intended to protect vulnerable people ended up penalising almost everyone.

They included removing regular 'savings' and 'investments' from would-be borrowers' expenses that were measured against their intended loan.

They also reduced the need for lenders to comb through bank statements of all borrowers – an apparent reference to the notorious cups of latte that got added to a person's outgoings.

The changes came part way through a review of the CCCFA rules by MBIE officials on behalf of the Council of Financial Regulators, and are not the last word, according to the Minister of Commerce and Consumer affairs, David Clark.

The Bankers Association is pinning its hopes on that suggestion of potential further progress.

“We’re pleased to see the government moving quickly in response to consumer concerns about the impact of the new lending rules,” Beaumont said.

“And we welcome the Minister’s commitment to the ongoing investigation of how the new rules are playing out.

“We think they’ve identified some of the main pain points for consumers. But it’s not clear the changes will move the dial enough to make a difference.

“ More could be done to reduce the impact on most consumers while maintaining protections for vulnerable consumers.”

Beaumont went on to support the principle of allowing credit to consumers who can afford it, while protecting vulnerable consumers from high-cost borrowing.

But the latest changes maintained the one-size fits all approach that had not worked so far.

“More detail is needed to see how the changes will actually work,” he said.

“For example, the range of benchmarked expenses is very limited, and the regulations still require lenders to gather detailed information on outgoings.”

He looked forward to working with officials to help develop solutions and stressed that banks took their obligations towards responsible lending very seriously.

The Bankers Association represents 18 banks including all the main trading banks.

The non-bank sector has already expressed its reservations.

“There's no detail as to when this comes into effect,” said Lyn McMorran of the Financial Services Federation.

“Is it immediate, is it today? The Minister's office has sent me nothing, we have been kept completely in the dark. They have sent information to the media, could they send it to lenders, please?”

Financial Advice NZ has welcomed the changes and wants them implemented quickly.

It is important the Minister acts with speed to implement the changes so Kiwis who genuinely have the ability to service credit are able to access it,” said its chief executive Katrina Shanks.

“We also look forward to seeing the outcome of the Minister’s continued investigation.”

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