Putting the bite back into banking. What does a bank do after a 7% rise in its half-year profit and a tidy 6% rise in interim dividend for all its needy shareholders? Put up investor mortgage rates by 0.25% and owner occupiers by 0.12% -- that was a small mercy for owner-occupiers. But it’s yet another example of weak-kneed banking leadership as the regional bank put profits in front of its customers. Bank of Queensland CEO Jon Sutton said yesterday the rate increase was the result of it balancing “growth, risk and margins over the long term”. No doubt the BoQ also claims it is customer-centric and puts those strange beasts, customers, first -- first in line to be clipped, that is. The bank’s net interest margin rose 10 points to 1.97 cents in the dollar in the latest half year (the bank attempted to spin the figure by comparing it wrongly with the second half of 2014-15, which left the figure unchanged. That is not an apples with apples comparison with the first half of that year).
But here’s a reminder: in February, Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens said the recent rise in wholesale funding costs had not been sufficient to warrant banks increasing their lending rates independently of the central bank. Stevens said banks were still able to roll over debt at lower interest rates than they had paid several years ago. -- Glenn Dyer