Below is a lively list, which helps define the first year of the crunch as an unusually destructive and creative force in financial services in Australia.

  • Finished: Rams, Mobius.
  • Finished in name: Maxis.
  • Hibernating: all but a few banks and non-bank lenders, unless already out of business, or named CBA.
  • Switched to servicing: Bluestone.
  • Clinging on: Liberty, most mortgage managers, many brokers.
  • Challenged: Challenger.
  • Adjusting: aggregators.
  • Distinctive funding: Members Equity Bank, Puma.
  • For sale: Aussie Home Loans, Wizard. Maybe GE Money.
  • Pumped up for sale: HBOS.
  • Non-bank survivors: FirstMac, La Trobe Financial, Resimac.
  • Remaining foreign bank challenger: ING.
  • Foreign banks easing out: Citigroup, HSBC.
  • Going: GMAC-RFC, many mortgage managers, many mortgage brokers, most recent entrants to mortgage funding, and maybe also Suncorp and IAG.
  • Gone: St George.
  • Also for sale: any bank.
  • Barriers to sale: ALP policy. Board conservatism.
  • In favour of mergers: (guessing here), ACCC, APRA, RBA.
  • Mergers under negotiation: dozens of credit unions, half a dozen challenger brands in mortgage funding, and all major banks involved in examination of a number of merger options.

Will this shock foster or reduce productivity in banking?

What is the outlook for customer service?

Which models keep the investors on-side, politicians quiet and consumers reasonably satisfied?

Or does the oligopoly just extend market share from 80 per cent something in many product markets to 90 per cent something; in the extremes, pushing 100 per cent?

Who can buy banks? Who can’t?

After a long wait, a 17-year-long boom, consolidation is speeding up in banking.

The money may be expensive, but these may be promising times in banking. Let’s hope so.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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