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Major bank CEO divulges ‘significant failures’

The chief executive of a big four bank has said that he is “ultimately accountable” for the financial harm and emotional stress customers have faced as a result of the group’s misconduct.

After lodging the bank’s submission to the Royal Commission this week, ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott wrote to staff outlining why the bank is backing the inquiry.

Mr Elliott said that Commissioner Hayne had asked ANZ to answer some very specific questions — basically to identify any instances of misconduct by ANZ in the past 10 years or situations where its conduct fell short of community standards or expectations.

“Although many of the issues in our submission are known and have been or are being fixed, seeing them all in one document is confronting,” the ANZ boss said.

“Of course, it would be easy to lay the blame on a few bad apples or to say that these are largely historical technical glitches resulting from large complex IT systems. That would be wrong.

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“For me, it’s completely unacceptable that we have caused some of our customers financial harm and emotional stress. I’m ultimately accountable for this and once again apologise.”

While he acknowledged the strength of Australia’s banking system and ANZ’s role in supporting the national economy, particularly through the financial crisis, Mr Elliott said that plenty of Australians had lost “real money” and suffered “significant harm” at the hand of the banks.

He pointed to a Financial System Inquiry finding, which identified that more than 80,000 Australians lost billions of dollars as a result of the collapse of managed investment schemes, poor financial planning advice and other misconduct.

“While the result is that customers trust banks to keep their money safe, many no longer believe that we put them at the centre of everything we do. If we are to be the successful company we aspire to be, this needs to change,” Mr Elliott said.

ANZ’s submission to the Royal Commission has not yet been made public. However, the CEO said that it shows that the bank has made “significant failures” over the last 10 years.

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