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Bank heads call for calm amid ‘embarrassing’ RC

Bank heads call for calm amid ‘embarrassing’ RC

Macquarie’s chairman and NAB’s CEO have sought to reinfuse confidence in the banking sector and repair reputational damage inflicted by the financial services royal commission.

Macquarie chairman Peter Warne told shareholders at the group’s annual general meeting on Thursday (26 July) that he was “surprised” by some of the findings of the  Royal Commission into Banking, Superannuation and the Financial Services Industry, but not by the tone of the inquiry.

“I think we’ve all been surprised at some of things that have come out of the royal commission, but I would actually encourage people to remember that this is a royal commission into misconduct — this is not a royal commission into conduct generally, [and] this is certainly not a royal commission into good conduct,” the chairman said.

“There have been some bad stories, and I accept that, but the vast majority of [customers] in the Australian financial services [sector] get good service, theyre very happy with their [provider’s] performance [and] they actually like their bank, believe it or not.”

He continued: “Bad things have happened and bad things will always happen. The real issue is what we do about them, how quickly we get on and fix them, and ensure that they dont happen again.

“Lets not throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Mr Warne echoed comments made by NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn on ABC Radio National this week, which urged the public to consider the “good job” that the industry does for clients.

However, Mr Thorburn acknoweldged that he was “embarrassed” by some of the revelations of misconduct identified by the commission.

“I have been a banker all my career. Im proud of what we do, and what banks do, but sometimes we get it terribly wrong,” Mr Thorburn said.

“When you see some of the things in the royal commission, it makes you feel ashamed.

“Overall, thats not the way our people are, and not the way the bank generally is. This is a royal commission into misconduct, so all were going to hear, rightfully, is the wrong things, and theyre embarrassing, and they are wrong — but overwhelmingly, our people are great people and they do a good job for our clients.”

Mr Thorburn added that the royal commission has provided NAB with an opportunity to listen to feedback from stakeholders, adding that “there will be change”.

“This royal commission is like a burning platform for us. It creates the ability for us to look, to hear, to get the intensity of feedback in a concentrated way and make change.

“We’ve been picking up feedback as we go through each round. And there will be change as we go.”

Further, Macquarie’s chairman confirmed that the bank, which is yet to appear before the commission, will provide evidence in round six of the hearings.

“The royal commission has sought information from us, reports on a whole range of issues going back 10 years in some cases, which we have supplied to them,” Mr Warne said.

“Theyve asked us to supply witness statements that could potentially have been quizzed during one of the sessions, but no witnesses were asked to deliver, and of course, well continue to deliver that information when requested.”

Mr Warne added that he’s awaiting the release of the royal commission’s interim report, which he said would provide the industry with a greater insight into “where the royal commission is going”.

Mr Warne said: “I think were all looking eagerly at the interim report, which will be delivered in September, to get a feeling for where the royal commission is going and the recommendations or other observations theyre likely to make.

“I think its at that point that were likely to see the direction that were going.”

 [Related: Macquarie announces CEO resignation]

Bank heads call for calm amid ‘embarrassing’ RC
Peter Warne, Macquarie
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