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What the RBA overhaul means for interest rates

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is facing a major overhaul following an independent review.

What does it mean for interest rates and for Australian mortgage holders? We dive into all your questions in this article.

Why was there a review?

Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced the review in July 2022 – the first review of the RBA since the central bank started to target inflation in the early 1990s.

“The Review is all about ensuring Australia’s central bank and monetary policy arrangements are as strong and effective as they can be into the future,” Treasurer Jim Chalmers said.

The final report, ‘An RBA fit for the Future’, was released on April 20, 2023. It looked at the RBA’s performance over the past three decades.

What were the key recommendations?

The review made a lot of recommendations – 51 to be precise. The gist was for decisions about the cash rate to be made with broad input, and the reasons for any changes to be much clearer to the public.

Some of the key recommendations included:

  • The RBA should have a ‘monetary policy board’ with greater economic expertise and shift to eight meetings a year (instead of 11) to allow more time to consider issues.
  • There should be a press conference after each meeting to encourage more transparency, and board members should speak publicly about the board’s work.
  • Two separate boards should be established – one for monetary policy, the other for governance of the RBA.
  • The inflation target of two to three per cent should be retained.
  • There should be five-yearly reviews of the RBA’s monetary policy framework and policy tools.

So, what’s next?

The government is expected to legislate changes relating to the review from next year. Mr Chalmers has indicated he is hopeful the changes to the RBA could take effect by July 2024.

Meanwhile, RBA Governor Philip Lowe welcomed the recommendations. “The board will consider these issues over coming meetings and develop and implement a new set of arrangements,” he said.

What about the impact on interest rates?

As mentioned, the RBA currently meets 11 times a year on the first Tuesday of the month (except in January) and the board makes a decision about the cash rate. After the decision, lenders decide whether to adjust their interest rates.

If the recommendations of the review go ahead, the monetary policy board will meet 8 times a year. There will be more time between meetings for the board to weigh up the latest economic indicators before making a decision.

In other words, homeowners won’t get back-to-back rate hikes (or pauses or cuts) every month.

And with fewer cash rate changes, there will be more time for households to adsorb and adapt to any cash rate hikes.

On the flip side, with fewer meetings, it may also be necessary to make larger changes to the cash rate (which has been the case with the US Federal Reserve and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand).

Like to know more?

We’d be happy to answer any other questions you might have about the RBA overhaul and what it means for you. Please get in touch and let’s chat.

Understand What You Can Borrow

When you’re applying for a loan, it may be tempting just to speak to the financial institution you already bank with. The mortgage market remains highly competitive and it pays to seek alternatives.

Better still, consider using the services of a mortgage broker. A good mortgage broker has access to a panel of lenders and knows their lending application processes.

This will save you time and money and give you the best chance of getting the best possible loan when you need it. They will also be able to advise you on which loan is right for you, given your own personal circumstances.

Carl Thompson – Commercial Lending Specialist, Strategic Investor Group

Big Banks Royal Commission Jitters

Australia’s big four banks continue to manage multiple challenges including falling house prices, a regulatory backlash sparked by the royal commission, and higher funding costs.

A further challenge is that international funding costs have been creeping up in recent months – a trend likely to cost banks hundreds of millions if they are not passed on to customers.

Issues raised by the royal commission will make it much harder for major banks to raise their interest rates independently of the Reserve Bank. At some stage, however, an economic decision will need to be made.

How are you placed should interest rates rise sooner rather than later?

Carl Thompson – Commercial Lending Specialist, Strategic Investor Group

Property Market Update

The Australian property market is a restless one that can see things heat up and cool down in a matter of months, and with everyone trying to get a slice of a property market worth $7.5 trillion it pays to keep up to date.

Whether you are a first-time property owner, or you own multiple properties, obtaining sound professional advice, before investing in property, is essential. Wealth creation through property can prove to be a prudent strategy.

Research shows investors who have a close relationship with a qualified professional will be richer than those who do not have that close relationship.

Contact Strategic Investor Group today to review your individual financial circumstances.

Carl Thompson – Commercial Lending Specialist, Strategic Investor Group

The Interest Rate Dilemma

The Reserve Bank has left the official cash rate on hold at its fifth meeting of the year, marking a record 22 months without a change.

RBA Governor Philip Lowe said housing credit growth had slowed over the past year, especially to investors.

“APRA’s supervisory measures and tighter credit standards have been helpful in containing the build-up of risk in household balance sheets, although the level of household debt remains high,”.

“While there may be some further tightening of lending standards, the average mortgage interest rate on outstanding loans is continuing to decline.”

Will the Banks be able to manage margins or increase mortgage interest rates to offset rising international borrowing costs?

Seek professional advice today regarding your existing or proposed lending requirements.

Carl Thompson – Commercial Lending Specialist, Strategic Investor Group

What will be the economic effect of the Banking Royal Commission?

We are already seeing the impact with individuals and company’s ability to access Bank loans becoming extremely difficult.

With the loan approval process requiring applicants to evidence the ability to service their borrowings at twice the actual interest rate, have the recent regulatory changes created a barrier for genuine borrowers.

Prudent lending principles are required, however, have the regulators gone too far, and will these actions have a flow-on effect for future economic growth?

Understand your individual position by speaking to a professional today.

Carl Thompson – Commercial Lending Specialist, Strategic Investor Group

Australia’s credit reporting system is changing. Are you prepared?

A key component lenders use when determining whether you are approved for a loan and how much you can borrow is your credit report, which sets out your previous credit applications and any defaults on your payments

Australia is currently moving to a new system of credit reporting that will help reward people who pay off their debts on time.

Following industry-wide changes, your credit report will soon show a much more comprehensive picture of your credit health and your ability to pay your debts.

Consumers who have been diligent in making their repayments on time may be able to borrow more money and at a lower interest rate than before.

Carl Thompson – Commercial Lending Specialist, Strategic Investor Group

Will you be affected by The Hayne Royal Commission?

Lenders have been tightening their lending controls and interest-only rates in response to regulatory pressure to lower record levels of household debt and boost prudential standards.

Ratings’ agency Standard and Poor’s is warning owner-occupiers are more likely than investors to struggle with the transition to principal and interest repayments, particularly for loans underwritten before 2015 when lending standards for interest-only were less strict.

If you have an Interest Only loan due for review it’s time to seek professional advice regarding your options.

Carl Thompson – Commercial Lending Specialist, Strategic Investor Group

Interest Rates – What will 2018 & 2019 bring?

Most economists are forecasting that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will probably only make one rate rise (+25bp) to the cash rate by late 2018 while a smaller group of analysts expect interest rates to remain on hold well into 2019. Westpac’s chief economist Bill Evans has even gone as far as saying that he expects rates to remain at current levels well into 2020.

Stability from the RBA doesn’t always translate into stability for borrowers as many have already faced rising mortgage costs during the last 12 months, especially those with investment and interest-only loans.

Now’s the time to take stock and review your individual financial position.

Carl Thompson – Commercial Lending Specialist, Strategic Investor Group

2018: The year to set up your financial future

Based on the expectations of most economists, mortgage holders have between nine and 18 months of the current record low-interest rates before the Reserve Bank will begin the process of moving them up towards more long-term historical norms.

Despite some projections from economists that the RBA will move rates up mid to late 2018, the central bank will be keeping a very close eye on the housing market and will be loathed to become accountable for any precipitous fall in house prices.

Low wages growth and inflation and very weak consumer spending will provide it with the conditions to retain interest rates at 1.5 per cent.

Interest rates are more likely to go nowhere this year.

Now is the perfect time to secure your financial future by securing the best possible borrowing solution.

Carl Thompson – Commercial Lending Specialist, Strategic Investor Group