National Australia Bank’s chief executive Andrew Thorburn has cancelled his long-service leave to deal with the fallout from Commissioner Hayne’s final report.
In the final report released yesterday, Commissioner Hayne singled NAB out as standing apart from the other three major banks.
Mr Thorburn in a statement to the ASX said that he had cancelled his long-service leave to personally and visibly lead NAB at this time.
“I am proud to be CEO of NAB, and am more determined than ever to lead NAB with even greater urgency and intensity and show through our ongoing actions that we do what we say,” he said.
Commissioner Hayne, in his report, found that out of the big four banks, NAB had not seemed willing to accept blame.
“I was not persuaded that NAB is willing to accept the necessary responsibility for deciding, for itself, what is the right thing to do, and then having its staff act accordingly,” he said.
Mr Thorburn and chairman Ken Henry were also singled out by Hayne for their actions while on the stand.
“I thought it telling that Dr Henry seemed unwilling to accept any criticism of how the board had dealt with some issues. I thought it telling that Mr Thorburn treated all issues of ‘fees for no service’ as nothing more than carelessness combined with system deficiencies when the total amount to be repaid by NAB and NULIS on this account is likely to be more than $100 million.”
NAB in a statement released to the ASX said that the report was comprehensive and that NAB would seriously consider its lessons.
“The final report references matters concerning the NAB Group which have been referred to the relevant regulator. We will engage constructively on these matters,” said Mr Thorburn.
Mr Thorburn said it was hard to read the commissioner’s views and said he believed they were taking the right steps.
“The commissioner has expressed his view that we at NAB may not be learning the lessons we need to from the past and, in particular, that we don’t know what the right thing to do is.
“As the CEO, this is very hard to read, and does not reflect who I am or how I am leading, nor the change that is occurring inside our bank. While we have made mistakes, I believe there is a lot of evidence that we are making sustainable and serious change to once again regain the trust of all our customers,” he said.
Mr Henry reiterated Mr Thorburn’s statements and said he was disappointed by the commissioner’s view.
“Commissioner Hayne said I seemed unwilling to accept criticism of how the board had dealt with some of the issues raised by the commission. I am disappointed that the commissioner formed this view. I know that it is not so. The board and I have reflected deeply on those and other issues and, as I have said previously, we take them very seriously,” he said.
Mr Henry said customers were the priority for NAB and that the board had already led an examination into its culture and governance.
“We have said we are not prepared to accept good intentions where urgency, consistency and discipline is required. The board has led a deep examination of our culture, governance and accountability. We are the only bank to publicly release our assessment, which clearly outlines 26 areas we are focusing on to be a better bank.”
Eliot Hastie is a journalist at Momentum Media, writing primarily for its wealth and financial services platforms.
Eliot joined the team in 2018 having previously written on Real Estate Business with Momentum Media as well.
Eliot graduated from the University of Westminster, UK with a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism).
You can email him on: [email protected]