New body launched to improve financial capability

The Federal Government will establish a new $50 million body to advance financial capability across Australia, which will largely be funded by the settlement payments agreed between the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), ANZ and NAB following their Bank Bill Swap Rate manipulation.

The new not-for-profit public company would manage and distribute the $40 million in community benefit payments that the two banks agreed to pay, as well as $10 million committed in the Federal Budget to developing women’s financial capability.

It would administer grants and aim to improve Australians’ capabilities and literacy of financial products and services.

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“Financial literacy and capability is critical for economic empowerment, including for Australian women and young and older Australians,” the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer, said.

“This new body will be a game-changer, a lasting institution that will support consumers and build financial capability for all Australians no matter what their circumstances … It will use funds received as a result of corporate wrongdoing to educate and empower Australian consumers of financial products and advice.”

O’Dwyer had high hopes for the company, saying “this new body will be to financial literacy and capability, what beyondblue has been to mental health”.

The body would be independent of the Government. It would be overseen by a board chaired by Paul Clitheroe, and both Elaine Henry and Robert Brown would sit on it.

Where ASIC accepts enforceable undertakings in future, it could agree to further community benefit payments to be paid to the company. The body was also expected to seek deductible gift recipient status to enable it to receive tax-deductible donations from the public.

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