Australian Prudential Regulation Authority
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|Statutory authority overview|
|Formed||1 July 1998|
|Dissolved||Australian Prudential Regulation Commission|
|Jurisdiction||Commonwealth of Australia|
|Headquarters||Sydney, New South Wales|
|Statutory authority executives||
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is a statutory authority of the Australian Government and the prudential regulator of the Australian financial services industry. APRA was established on 1 July 1998 in response to the recommendations of the Wallis Inquiry. APRA's authority and scope is determined pursuant to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority Act, 1998 (Cth).
APRA oversees banks, credit unions, building societies, friendly societies, general insurance and reinsurance companies, life insurance and most members of the superannuation industry. It was established on 1 July 1998. APRA is funded largely by the industries that it supervises. APRA currently supervises institutions holding A$4 trillion in assets for almost 23 million Australian depositors, policyholders and superannuation fund members.
It regulates banks, general and life insurance companies, superannuation funds, credit unions, building societies and friendly societies to ensure that these institutions keep their financial promises; that is, that they will remain financially sound and able to meet their obligations to depositors, fund members and policy holders.
The current chairman of APRA is Wayne Byres and the deputy chairman is Helen Rowell. Geoff Summerhayes is the third APRA member.
In June 1996, the Financial System Inquiry (known as the Wallis Inquiry) was established to examine the results of the deregulation of the Australian financial system, to examine the forces driving further change, particularly technological and recommend changes to the regulatory system to ensure an 'efficient, responsive, competitive and flexible financial system to underpin stronger economic performance, consistent with financial stability, prudence, integrity and fairness.
At the time, the regulators of the Australian financial services industry were based on the institutions and not the regulatory function. APRA's predecessor regulators were the Insurance and Superannuation Commission (ISC), the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Financial Institutions Commission (AFIC).
The Wallis Inquiry recommended a new structure. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) was to deal with monetary policy and systemic stability with the Payments System Board considering payments systems regulation.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Commission (later to become APRA) was to deal with prudential regulation of Authorised Deposit-Taking Institutions (ADIs), life and general insurance and superannuation (including Industry superannuation).
The Corporations and Financial Services Commission (a renamed and expanded Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) ) was to deal with market integrity, consumer protection and corporations.
APRA was established on 1 July 1998 under the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority Act 1998. APRA became prominent in the collapse of HIH Insurance in 2001 and for its investigation into the National Australia Bank foreign currency deal scandal in 2004.
The Effect of the Basel II Regulation on Australian Business
The Basel II regulations were formally introduced as the relevant prudential standard to the Australian Banking System by APRA from January 2008.
The introduction of the Standardised Basel II regulation destroyed the Australian SME (Small to Medium Enterprise) market for the following reasons:
- The Basel II regulations increased the Tier 1 Capital holding requirements for Corporate loans having an S&P (Standard and Poors) rating of B+ or worse from 8% under the Basel I regulations to 100% under Basel II.
- The same regulation reduced the amount of Tier 1 Capital held for Residential loans from 4% to 2.8%.
Banks as a business are always attempting to maximise their Return on Equity, meaning that a bank for say a billion dollars in Tier 1 Capital held on its balance sheet can lend $35.7 billion in Residential loans or one billion in SME loans pursuant to the Basel II regulatory capital requirements.
Almost all Australian SME are S&P B+ or worse loans, for this reason Australian Banks en-masse have exited the SME market since January 2008, and the CBA (Commonwealth Bank of Australia) wrote off 1,958 BankWest Corporate loans on acquisition having a combined loan value of $17.9 billion. (Refer the CBA and BankWest Wikipedia pages "Forth Coming Class Action and Royal Commission).
The APRA Basel II regulations had the added effect reducing competition in the Australian Banking Sector, by having the effect of discriminating between the Capital holding requirements of the big four banks (CBA, ANZ, Westpac and NAB) and the other financial institutions. Through the introduction a 2 tiered system described in the Basel II regulation as:
- Standardised (adopted the regional and foreign owned banks)
- Advanced (adopted by the big four and Macquarie bank).
Under the Advanced Basel II regulation the big four banks were able to self regulate the amount of Tier 1 Capital they held, for the apparent reason that they are regarded as having demonstrated the ability to APRA to calculate the Tier 1 Capital required for each class of assets on their own book.
Whereas, the regional and foreign banks could not demonstrate this ability to APRA so they were forced down the Standardised approach having to hold 500% more Capital than the Big Four.
This of course led to the sale of St George and BankWest and decimated the Australian Banking Sector leaving the Big Four to share most of the market amongst themselves.