Following a report in the Fairfax media today, Commonwealth Bank (CBA) confirms that action was taken in early 2013 to immediately end a practice by some staff who had been identified making small deposits, typically of around 10 cents, to Youthsaver accounts.
CBA Chief Executive Officer Matt Comyn said: "While this practice did not financially harm any of our customers, it was a breach of their trust. For that I’m deeply sorry. As CBA’s new chief executive, my number one priority is to expedite changes that will prevent any behaviour that undermines our customers' trust in us - and to remove any CBA employee who knowingly does the wrong thing."
The practice was identified following a review in February 2013 that confirmed small deposits had been made to some Youthsaver accounts. These deposits were designed to make the accounts appear active and improve these individual employees’ incentive compensation. The employee incentive associated with these actions was, on average, less than $2 in total per year.
Mr Comyn added: "When customers open an account, they put their trust in us and that’s particularly true when the account holder is a child. After we identified this practice by some staff in 2013, we immediately made changes to end it, and we are not aware of any evidence that the practice has occurred again in the past five years. There is now a line in the sand and we have zero-tolerance for behaviour such as this, irrespective of whether there is customer harm."
Following the review, CBA took a number of steps to prevent this practice from reoccurring.
- Clear communication with branch managers in March 2013 that the practice was not acceptable and inappropriate behaviour would result in disciplinary action which may include dismissal.
- Subsequent changes have been made to increase the deposit required to activate a Youth Saver account to $5.
- Increased monitoring of new accounts.
- More recently, branch incentives have been substantially revised with a focus on customer satisfaction, risk management and company values.
CBA’s Youthsaver product helps establish bank accounts for young people and encourages a savings habit early in life. All accounts are opened with parental consent and the accounts have no deposit or monthly account fees.