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On The Record

Matt Comyn opening remarks to the Standing Committee on Economics

Matt Comyn opening remarks to the Standing Committee on Economics

Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn's opening remarks to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, Review of the Four Major Banks.

Thank you Chair.

I’d like to share with you the actions we are taking to make Commonwealth Bank a better and simpler bank by improving our culture, putting our customers first and making changes to the way we work.

Our customers and the community rightly expect that we always to do the right thing but we’ve seen far too many instances of unacceptable customer outcomes.

As the Royal Commission has shown, there have unfortunately been failures of judgement, failures of process, failures of leadership, and in some instances, greed.

We’ve been too slow to identify problems, too slow to fix underlying issues, and too slow to put things right for customers.

We became complacent.

Our capability has been inadequate in critical areas, particularly operational risk and compliance.

We have underinvested in prevention even though we have invested significantly in customer remediation.

This is completely unacceptable.

Since I became CEO six months ago, I’ve been focused on earning back trust and the reputation of the Commonwealth Bank by driving change and fixing every one of these underlying issues.

That change started at the highest level of management, where I have appointed six new leaders to my executive team.

Executives across the organisation have faced consequences for our failures. Some have been terminated, and there has been a $100m impact on remuneration.

Accountability has not been clear enough inside the Commonwealth Bank. To address this we have extended the Government’s new Banking Executive Accountability Regime across more than 90 executives.

The inquiry APRA commissioned into the Commonwealth Bank last year and its 35 recommendations provide a roadmap for the necessary changes for our organisation. We have embraced the Report as a critical but fair assessment of our shortcomings; and we are implementing the recommendations in full, and reporting to the regulator on our progress.

We have set clear values expectations for all of our people and mandated a new Code of Conduct across the organisation.

We have changed the structure of remuneration to reduce the reliance on financial measures. We will continue to examine what more can be done in this area.

In June of this year we announced our decision to demerge our wealth and mortgage broking businesses into a separately listed entity to simplify the bank and allow each business to focus on its core activities and customers.

This week we announced further reforms to improve outcomes for customers in our wealth business, including the rebating of grandfathered commissions to customers.

We’ve also taken a range of actions to benefit retail customers:

  • We’ve changed incentives for branch staff, and have introduced stronger oversight of mortgage brokers;
  • We’ve strengthened how we lend responsibly, with more granular enquiry into our customers’ financial circumstances; and
  • We’re making it easier for customers to choose the right product, by simplifying our product range including across our home loans by reducing the number of products from eight to four.

And for our small business customers:

  • We’ve made our contracts fairer, by removing clauses that were one-sided;
  • We’ve expanded our definition of a small business, so that more customers can benefit from our new shorter and simpler contracts; and
  • We’ve established a dedicated team to assist small business customers facing difficult times.

I recently wrote to our eight and a half million customers about what we are doing to become a simpler better bank. I’ve so far received more than 9,000 responses to that letter.

We recognise these changes are only the beginning and we are committed to doing the work necessary to earn the community’s trust.

I understand why this Committee, our customers and the community, may be sceptical about any words or promises. I accept that, and understand that you will judge me, and the Commonwealth Bank, on our actions.

I welcome your questions.