- Appointment of three plaintiff law firms as Independent Customer Advocates
- Expansion of customer contact
The Commonwealth Bank today announced further progress in its Open Advice Review program, with the appointment of three plaintiff law firms as Independent Customer Advocates and an expansion of customer contact.
Since the Commonwealth Bank announced the Open Advice Review program in July, it has made several key appointments. These include:
- An Independent Review Panel, chaired by retired Justice of the High Court of Australia, the Hon Ian Callinan AC, and also comprising retired Justice of the Queensland Court of Appeal, the Hon Geoffrey Davies AO, as Deputy Chairman, and retired Justice of the Federal Court and the Victorian Court of Appeal, the Hon Julie Dodds-Streeton QC, as panellist;
- A consultant expert advisor to the program: Fiona Guthrie, Executive Director of Financial Counselling Australia;
- An independent expert: Promontory Financial Group to review the process of the program and provide transparency by periodically reporting the outcomes of the program publicly; and
- An independent forensic expert: McGrath Nicol.
Today, the Commonwealth Bank announced additional independent appointments. Three law firms - Maurice Blackburn, Shine Lawyers and Slater and Gordon - have been appointed as Independent Customer Advocates to support individual customers through the program. The services of these firms as Independent Customer Advocates will be available at no cost to customers.
Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Bank, Mr Ian Narev said the appointments are designed to ensure customers have access to independent support through the Open Advice Review program, and have independent advocacy on their behalf.
The Commonwealth Bank also announced an extension of the customer contact element of the program. Details regarding the program will be included in the next statement or notice to be sent to the more than 300,000 current Commonwealth Financial Planning customers. These details will include clear guidance about how customers of Commonwealth Financial Planning between 2003 and 2012 can register for the program. Commonwealth Bank recognises the contractual restrictions in contacting the customers of independently owned Financial Wisdom practices, but will continue to pursue various alternatives to contact past customers of both businesses.
"Since the announcement of the Open Advice Review program, we have advertised the program prominently in newspapers and on radio stations that collectively reach many millions of Australians. We are confident that most affected customers have seen these advertisements. However, to ensure that we maximise the chances that all customers who may have been affected become aware of the program, we are now expanding our contact. We will also continue to work with community groups to find other ways to contact affected customers who may not have heard about the program,” Mr Narev said.
“Our goal is to provide reassurance to customers, and do the right thing for customers who may have been affected by poor financial advice in the past."
About the Open Advice Review program
Commonwealth Bank's Open Advice Review program is designed to deliver an efficient, fair and consistent outcome for any customer of Commonwealth Financial Planning or Financial Wisdom who may have received poor financial advice between 1 September 2003 and 1 July 2012. The program is as follows:
- Free assessment of previous advice by a specialist Commonwealth Bank team. In conducting the review the specialist team will share the information it has available with the customer and will invite the customer to provide information that the customer has available. Where required, McGrathNicol will provide Independent Forensic Expert advice;
- The customer will also receive an offer of an Independent Customer Advocate funded by the Commonwealth Bank;
- Customers who do not agree or are concerned with the assessment will have the option of a further review by an Independent Review Panel, led by the Hon Ian Callinan AC, which will review individual cases and determine whether compensation is payable and, if so, how much;
- Commonwealth Bank will be bound by the outcome of the Panel’s determination. However, the customer will not be bound and will still have the option of taking the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service or pursuing a claim in respect of the matter; and
- Commonwealth Bank will also have its internal processes overseen by the Independent Expert Promontory Financial Group, led by Dr Jeff Carmichael AO, who will make their periodic reports public.
Customer registration for the Open Advice Review program is open by calling 1800 507 281 or visiting commbank.com.au/openadvice