CBA responds to ASIC review of school banking programs

Commonwealth Bank has actively participated in the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) review of school banking programs over the past two years, to ensure our program continues to support the financial wellbeing of young Australians. While we acknowledge some of the findings, we do not believe they are entirely consistent with international research or our own, and we do not agree with the overall assessment of school banking programs.

As noted in ASIC’s report released today, school banking programs are very highly regarded by participating schools, students and parents. There is also considerable evidence that children who have a bank account and participate in our School Banking program are more effective savers and attain higher financial literacy than other children of the same age.

  • Our research shows that 80% of parents with a child in our Program find it valuable, as it teaches their children how to save, introduces them to banking and teaches them responsibility.
  • ASIC’s own research also indicates that 84% of parents with children participating in a school banking program are satisfied.
  • Research by the OECD shows that Australian students who hold an account with a bank, building society, post office or credit union score 37 points higher in financial literacy than students without an account or who do not know what an account is.[i]
  • 97% of 5- and 6-year-old School Banking participants earn bonus interest for good savings behaviour in their first year of holding their bank account, by depositing without making a withdrawal in one or more month. This compares to only 54% of non-school bankers of the same age. In the second year of having an account, there is still a significant difference in the good savings behaviour of School Bankers vs non-School Banking participants, at 82% and 48% respectively.
  • Our research shows that 90% of primary school parents are open to banks partnering with primary schools to help their children learn about money, as long as they have the choice to opt out. They believe that banks have expertise and resources to help children learn good financial habits. Participation in our School Banking program is entirely optional and at the discretion of schools.

Mark Jones, Executive General Manager Customer Service Network, said: “Our School Banking program reinforces the importance of regular savings, equips students with the knowledge of how to access and use a bank account, and provides structure for parents to support their children to save regularly. We are proud of the program and the positive impact it delivers.”

We have worked closely with ASIC during their two-year review. We have developed a detailed Action Plan to further improve our School Banking program and address the issues raised through the review. All short term actions are complete, and the remainder are well progressed. An update on the Action Plan is available here.

  • In particular, we have made significant changes to our School Banking program, including reviewing and updating all material in the program in line with feedback from ASIC, parents, schools and community groups.
  • We made changes to our School Banking contribution payments framework to better align the fundraising resource to regular savings behaviour in students. Importantly, the payments we make to schools are not linked to the number of new bank accounts created or to the monetary amount deposited by students.
  • In consideration of ASIC’s feedback, to improve transparency we have published our school payments rationale on our website, including a state-by-state breakdown of contribution payments made to schools. This is available at commbank.com.au/sbinfo.

[i] OECD, Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 Results, “Volume IV: Are Students Smart About Money?” (Database, Table IV.B1.6.6)

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