Major bank changes misconduct policy

NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn has announced a number of new measures to enhance oversight of the bank’s financial planning channels, following its revelation of a compensation project involving 750 customers.

In a speech to the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce yesterday, Mr Thorburn said NAB will be “accelerating and strengthening” some of the points raised during a recent review of its wealth business.

Specifically he announced that where professional misconduct is detected in the future, NAB will be “reviewing all files and writing to all customers” as well as advising ASIC of any advisers that leave the group and the “reasons why”.

The bank will also be more deeply reviewing the files associated with the 37 salaried and aligned advisers it has sacked in the past five years, he announced.

Mr Thorburn also said that while there is “no doubt that change is required”, that NAB has a strong track record in its provision of financial advice and a relatively low complaint ratio of 0.2 per cent, pointing to its early adoption of a fee-for-service remuneration model and stance on adviser education standards.

The comments follow a statement issued by the bank last Friday in response to Fairfax Media's publication of a leaked document which alleged that 37 NAB-affiliated financial planners had been let off in recent years for acts of misconduct resulting in client compensation costs of between $10 million and $15 million.

The statement confirmed much of the Fairfax reportage, with NAB Wealth executive general manager Andrew Hagger explaining the bank's intention to "face in" to problems in its financial planning arm.

“Over the past five years, we have compensated over 750 customers and paid out between $10 and $15 million in compensation in situations where we didn’t get it right the first time,” Mr Hagger said.

"We were transparent with this information, with our senior management team, the NAB Principal Board and our regulators."

Mr Hagger encouraged employees to use the bank’s whistleblower service or to “reach out to the regulators” if dissatisfied with the internal process.

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