You can read the CEO’s opening address to the Committee below.
We also provided an update on the action we are taking on the Royal Commission recommendations.
CBA CEO opening statement at the Standing Committee on Economics
Friday, 8 March 2019 (SYDNEY): Thank you Chair and good morning.
When I appeared before you six months ago, I talked about actions we were taking to put customers first, and to become a simpler, better bank.
This remains my first priority as Chief Executive. The outcomes examined through the Royal Commission were confronting, and the failures that led to those outcomes are simply unacceptable. It is only through addressing these issues that we will, in time, earn back the trust of the community.
In working towards rebuilding that trust, my focus has been in three key areas:
First, on addressing past failings - by looking again at a series of longstanding cases where customers remain dissatisfied with us and providing compensation where we got it wrong. As some of the members of this committee will be aware, I have personally been involved in guiding our response to some of the more difficult cases.
We are making improvements to how we address customer complaints, to ensure that problems our customers experience are resolved consistently, quickly and fairly. Importantly, we are changing how we approach remediation, to identify systemic issues earlier, and to ensure we address the root cause.
Second, we have been strengthening our internal governance, culture and accountability, to ensure the failures of the past are not repeated.
This has been driven in part by our response to the APRA inquiry into the Commonwealth Bank, for which implementation has been underway now for nine months. Last month, the independent Promontory report showed that we are on track with progress to date, but we recognise that we have significant work still to do to deliver our Remedial Action Plan.
And third, we are ensuring our business is squarely focused on delivering better outcomes for our customers.
- We have pledged to grow our lending to small business, with a faster and better service for approving loans.
- We are supporting farmers facing difficulties, including recently announcing we would no longer charge default interest on agricultural term loans in the event of a drought or other natural disaster.
- And we continue to add features our customers tell us they want, such as ApplePay, and an instalment service on our credit cards to help customers pay down their outstanding debt more quickly, at a lower rate.
These are just some of the actions we have been taking – and this year we are accelerating the pace of change, to deliver improvements to the way we serve our customers each and every week.
These actions are also helping to address the issues raised through the Royal Commission.
We welcome the Final Report and all of its 76 recommendations. They are the result of a comprehensive and detailed inquiry and we are taking steps towards implementing all of those that apply to our business.
Today we have released an update on all the actions we have underway and will take in the future to deliver on the recommendations.
Many of the recommendations require direct changes to our business and are already underway. Some of the recommendations will require action by Government, regulators and industry bodies before we can implement them. We will support this work and take steps where we can, so that once the regulatory framework is in place, we are ready to act.
We are implementing the Royal Commission recommendations transparently, and will issue regular updates on our progress.
I have also asked my deputy, David Cohen, to chair our Royal Commission Implementation Taskforce.
The immediate actions we are taking will ensure we are putting our customers first and that we continue to strengthen our governance to become a better organisation.
We expect to be judged by our actions, not words, and that is why today I have focused on the actions we are taking.
I don’t underestimate the task ahead to earn back trust, but it is vital that we achieve this, given the important role our organisation plays in the lives of so many Australians.
I welcome your questions.