THERE has been a shift in mood for Australia's financial institutions post the global financial crisis, a new survey by Norton Rose, which merged with Australian firm Deacons, has found.
A new sense of optimism is replacing the gloom that pervaded soon after the financial system's near collapse, the survey shows. And some 81 per cent of respondents now believe the global economy is improving.
Norton Rose banking and finance partner Dan Marjanovic, one of the architects of the survey, told The New Lawyer the general mood for the nation's financial institutions has shifted from survival, to recovery and then growth.
Relative to the global responses, Australia appears in a better position. Almost 90 per cent saw things improving. "The Australian respondents tended to be more optimistic than those in Europe and the UK and North America," Marjanovic said.
The survey, conducted towards the end of last year, suggests the Asia Pacific is best equipped to reap the benefits of the recovery.
"There is a growing recognition among many that there has been a definite (and perhaps irreversible) increase in the influence of the East as a consequence of the crisis," the survey said.
Marjanovic said the relative strength of Australian financial institutions have allowed them to be more proactive in a "very favourable" environment for growth. He said it's an environment that allows them to look at well priced opportunities.
For Norton Rose, this has filtered through and the firm has seen "significant growth" in trade finance opportunities.
"We've seen our clients actively involved in funding mid-cap business opportunities in property and M&A acquisitions. So that is filtering through and that seems to be supported by the survey, where the Australian optimism is far greater than in the Northern Hemisphere," Marjanovic said.
The country's Reserve Bank has already raised interest rates three times in a vote of cautious optimism in the economy, the survey said.
The relative strength of Australia's financial institutions has resulted in them taking an active role in the global restructuring process that will result from the crisis, the survey said.
"The big four banks are well-capitalised and already we have seen the start of what will be a strong push into Asia and the opportunities resenting themselves as part of the restructuring of the banking sector in the United Kingdom."
Going forward, the challenge for the Federal Government and Reserve Bank will be to manage the scaling back of the stimulus package due to inflationary concerns, the survey said, without adversely impacting on the growing stability in the economy and early signs of a strengthening of economic growth.