The chairman of ANZ, David Gonski, has stressed the need for a restoration of confidence in the banking sector, pledging to adopt a “progressive” and “respectful” approach on community issues.
In his address at ANZ’s Annual General Meeting held on Tuesday (19 December), Mr Gonski stated that the bank aims to improve both the bank and industry’s “standing in the community”, and he hopes that the banking Royal Commission will quell the “negative impact” on confidence in the system.
“We deeply regret the fact the community debate on banks and financial services came to this point,” the chairman said.
“Although we had long held the view that a Royal Commission was not necessary, in recent months, the political debate in Australia had started to have a negative impact on confidence in the financial system and the economy, and that confidence is vital to the long-term wellbeing of all of us.”
The chairman also acknowledged the “significant concerns” of the Australian public surrounding misconduct in the industry.
“Whatever we might have thought about the need for a Royal Commission, its cost and potential outcomes, we acknowledge that significant concerns exist among some customers and parts of the community about mis-selling and conduct in the financial services industry,” Mr Gonski added.
Further, the ANZ chairman expects the Royal Commission to be challenging for the industry, but he reaffirmed ANZ’s commitment to cooperate with the inquiry.
“[The] Royal Commission is a reality,” the chairman continued.
“We do not underestimate how challenging this Royal Commission will be for our industry or for ANZ.
“Our commitment is to engage with the commission with the respect, transparency and the constructive approach that we have tried to make a hallmark of our engagement with government and regulators in recent times.”
Mr Gonski echoed a view expressed by Westpac chief executive officer Ben Hartzer and chairman Lindsay Maxsted at Westpac’s AGM earlier this month.
The pair also called for the Royal Commission to put an end to the “political football” being played at the expense of industry confidence and certainty.
“[Banks] have been a political football for too long,” Mr Hartzer said. “That’s why we have now accepted the need for a Royal Commission to create certainty and confidence in our banking system.”