Majors admit mistakes, but will they improve?

by Miklos Bolza10 Oct 2016
The grilling of bank chiefs by federal politicians last week was a positive move for the industry according to the Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA).

The heads of ANZ, Westpac, NAB and CBA all spent time being quizzed on their business activities by federal MPs in the first of what is set to be an annual occurrence.

While the banks admitted some mistakes, there was a general theme that these had been fixed and it was time to move on.
“I think that’s the reality of large organisations, that when things go wrong our responsibility is to fix them and make sure they don’t happen again and make sure our customers are treated respectfully,” said Shayne Elliott, CEO of ANZ Bank. “But the reality is that most things don’t go wrong and that most of our customers are satisfied with the bank.”
Ian Narev, CEO of Commonwealth Bank, took a similar tack when describing how much the bank had improved.
“I think we're doing a lot better at listening to the cases of individual customers and if you're one of those it's absolutely critical that you have avenues that are easily accessible, cost effective where you can get efficient redress and we're committed to making that happen,” he told the committee.
Steven Münchenberg, chief executive of the ABA, praised the banks’ final responses, saying that the major players had provided their perspectives on all issues raised and also acknowledged they had room to improve.
“As an industry, we know we haven’t always lived up to the expectations of all of our customers and the wider community. The banks are acknowledging those issues and more importantly they are addressing them.”
He said the inquiry had raised a number of issues, some of which were already being addressed through government or industry initiatives.
“There were also a number of ideas and proposals raised that merit further substantive consideration and the banks will be evaluating these at the next meeting of the ABA Council.”
However, Paul Ryan, who co-founded Wizard Home Loans in the 90s, has said that real change will only occur if consumers voice their displeasure.
“With the big banks under the microscope in Canberra, now is the time for customers to be voting with their feet and demanding a better deal. It’s clear that any real change has to be driven by consumers – not the hot air coming out of Parliament House or the vested interests of the big four banks,” he said
He encouraged consumers to shop around and seek other options, saying that if they wait for a government or bank-led shift, they will be “waiting a lifetime”.