On Monday, the final report from the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry was released, laying bare a total of 76 recommendations for change and improvement within the sector.
Led by Commissioner Kenneth Hayne QC, the public inquiry held four rounds of hearings, considered more than 10,000 complaints from the public and examined thousands of documents, contributing to the lengthy final report which was published in three volumes.
The 530-page royal commission report was published online on Monday, three days after it was presented to the government, with Hayne also referring 24 companies to two regulators for investigation over criminal or civil charges.
Within a matter of hours, all four of the country’s largest banks had publicly responded to the report’s findings, pledging to review the details of Hayne’s report and reaffirming their commitment to consumers.
Here’s how the big four banks responded to the report:
NAB’s Chief Executive Andrew Thorburn and Chair Ken Henry were singled out by Hayne, who, mentioning them both by name, said he was “not as confident as he would wish” that they have learned from past mistakes.
“I was not persuaded that NAB is willing to accept the necessary responsibility for deciding, for itself, what is the right thing to do, and then having its staff act accordingly,” Hayne wrote in the report.
Thorburn personally responded to the report in the form of a video on Tuesday morning, in which he said NAB were “taking steps” to earn back their customers’ trust through action.
“We embrace the ambition and the recommendations that are contained in the report,” he said, directly addressing the bank’s customer base. “There is clearly more work to do for us at NAB.
“Our people are committed, we want to earn your trust, we want to get better, but that trust gets earned by actions and decisions that we make every single day. And I believe that we have been making better decisions to put you first…but it is clear we need to lift even more to rise and serve you better.”
Describing himself as “a proud banker for 30 years”, Thorburn wrapped up the video by stressing that NAB are taking the report seriously and committed to implementing the commissioner’s recommendations.
CEO Matt Comyn said CommBank are working through Commissioner Hayne’s report and recommendations, acknowledging the “need for change” and vowing to work through the potential impact of the government’s measures which were announced as a result of the commission.
“We note that the Commissioner has concluded that a number of matters regarding the Group’s conduct, including in relation to superannuation, warrant further investigation by relevant regulators and we will cooperate fully with these investigations,” he said in a statement.
“We will update the market as appropriate, noting that we will release our half year results on Wednesday.
“The Royal Commission has been a thorough and valuable process for everyone – bank customers, financial services institutions, regulators and policy makers. It has highlighted failings both in our business and across the wider financial services industry.
“As challenging as the Royal Commission process has been, CBA will be a better bank as a result. We are addressing past failings, implementing important changes and improving our processes to ensure we remain focused on what is best for our customers. We are implementing stronger policies and processes, including a new Code of Conduct.
“There is still much work ahead to earn back trust, but we are determined to restore broad respect and support for the important role that a major financial institution like CBA has to play in our economy and community.
“Over the coming months, we will accelerate our work towards becoming a simpler, better bank. It is our number one priority.”
Referring to Comyn in the report, Hayne said he was “persuaded that Comyn is well aware of the size and nature of the tasks that lie ahead”, adding that none of the other large banks have been “confronted so directly”, referencing the Prudential Inquiry’s scolding of CBA over conduct and compliance issues.
Hayne said he has “little doubt” that ANZ’s Chief Executive Shayne Elliot is “well aware of the size and nature of the tasks that lie ahead”.
In a statement published on Monday, Elliott said the inquiry had been “humbling”, adding that he, his staff and leaders have all learned from the experience and accepted responsibility for their own failings.
“The final report and the insights arising from the Commission will change our industry for the better,” he said in a statement. “It provides a thoughtful path forward that will ultimately result in a better banking system for all Australians.
“ANZ is committed to continuing the work and investment required to build a bank worthy of the trust and respect of our customers and the community as well as helping ensure these failures aren’t repeated.
“I recognise the size and nature of our compliance and culture challenge. And I am determined we deal with it.
“While we are urgently reviewing the report in detail, we do so acutely aware of the role we play in enhancing the prosperity of the Australian economy and will engage constructively with all stakeholders on any reforms arising from Commissioner Hayne’s recommendations.”
Westpac – who are seeking to maintain their wealth operations, unlike the other three banks – was singled out in the report due to CEO Brian Hartzer’s commitment to mending the bank’s relationship with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
“The Royal Commission has been a confronting, thorough and important process,” Hartzer said in a statement. “Westpac has already taken steps to address some of the matters that are referred to in the report, including our approach to dealing with customer complaints and leading the industry in moving away from grandfathered commissions. The recommendations in the report will help us build on this progress.
“We will continue to engage constructively in the reform process and support the essential role this industry plays in the Australian economy. We will work with policy makers and regulators on the best path forward for customers and the industry.
“Our focus remains on learning from the mistakes of the past and preventing them from happening again.”
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