ANZ says now has more empathy for farmers

Megan Neil

The ANZ bank says it now shows more empathy for farmers experiencing hard times, amid criticism over its treatment of former Landmark customers.

ANZ has told the banking royal commission it should have been more responsive and empathetic to some former Landmark customers and that its failure to so so caused distress in some cases.

Bank executive Ben Steinberg will continue answering questions over specific case studies selected by the commission at a hearing in Brisbane on Wednesday.

Mr Steinberg has repeatedly said the bank would be more sympathetic to agribusiness customers today.

"Under our current culture, the focus is on having more empathy for our customers and giving them more time and more opportunity and more flexibility in the way that we manage our solutions," he told the inquiry.

A significant number of former Landmark customers felt they were treated unfairly by ANZ after the bank bought the Landmark Financial Services loan book in 2010.

The complaints included ANZ issuing default notices over loans and allegations the bank required customers to sell their properties in circumstances that led to them being sold at less than their value, the inquiry heard.

Other complaints included a lack of communication from ANZ about the transition from Landmark to the bank, people being unable to access and manage their accounts and changes to the frequency of interest payments.

Once Mr Steinberg completes his evidence on Wednesday, the inquiry is expected to hear from Queensland cattle farmers about their dealings with other banks.

The commission will spend the entire week in Brisbane dealing with farming finance cases before heading to Darwin for a second week, when the focus will mainly be on financial issues affecting indigenous Australians.

The hearing was meant to include natural disaster insurance cases but commissioner Kenneth Hayne QC has postponed that until September, so more time can be devoted to farming finance.