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The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has released its policy and supervision priorities for the coming year. Consistent with APRA’s strategic objectives detailed in its Corporate Plan, a key focus is to further enhance the resilience and crisis readiness of Australia’s financial system.

APRA suspended much of its planned policy and supervision agenda in March 2020 in order to prioritise activities to respond to the impacts of COVID-19. The agenda recommenced in late 2020 at the point when APRA and its regulated entities had sufficient capacity.

APRA’s key policy priorities for 2021 include:

  • Strengthening crisis preparedness, including the development of a new prudential standard on resolution and recovery planning, taking into account the lessons and learnings of the past 12 months;
  • Updating prudential standards on operational risk, governance and risk management, and consulting with industry on guidance for climate change financial risk;
  • Completing the ongoing review of the capital framework for authorised deposit-taking institutions to fully implement ‘unquestionably strong’ capital ratios and the Basel III reforms.

In relation to its supervision activities, APRA’s priorities include:

  • Maintaining financial system resilience through increased action on crisis readiness, including recovery and resolution planning and stress testing;
  • Increased scrutiny of entities’ cyber security capabilities;
  • Embedding the new remuneration standard, conducting a risk culture survey, undertaking a range of GCRA-related supervisory reviews and deep dives, and working to close risk governance issues currently requiring capital overlays.

APRA Chair Wayne Byres said while the industry demonstrated its resilience in 2020 on the back of substantial public sector support, it was important to continue strengthening the financial system to ensure it was prepared for the potential crises of the future.

“Last year, the industry demonstrated an ability to adapt and continue serving the needs of customers, despite a number of severe operational challenges and disruptions.

“The robust response to date is not a cause for complacency, but underlines the value of an ongoing regulatory program that seeks to identify risks and put in place appropriate mitigation strategies to protect the interests of depositors, policy holders and fund members.

“As a forward-looking safety regulator, APRA’s priority is to maintain a financial system that is resilient and able to fulfil its important role in the Australian economy, whatever the circumstances.

“Given the continued uncertainly generated by COVID-19, APRA’s proposed policy and supervision agenda for the coming period will remain responsive to the external environment to ensure it continues to prioritise the areas of greatest need,” Mr Byres said. 

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