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?
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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.