CBA will not reveal how many clients have registered for the claim.

CBA will not reveal how many clients have registered for the claim. Photo: Nic Walker

Former clients of the disgraced financial planning arm of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia are still waiting to receive basic information about how to make a claim, 13 weeks after CEO Ian Narev pledged he was "truly sorry" for the scandal and had "listened carefully" to concerns the bank wasn't dealing with it seriously.

Richard Talbot, a former director of the NRMA and client of a CBA financial planner, registered for the bank's Open Advice Review program on July 3, the first day it opened. The program was announced after a Senate committee report in June and a series of reports by Fairfax Media revealed a group of CBA planners had put conservative clients into risky investments that blew up in the GFC and the bank had attempted to cover up the conduct.

But Mr Talbot is still waiting for his "information pack". The bank initially promised him the pack, which will contain information on how to make a claim, would arrive during the first week of September. Five weeks later, Mr Talbot says: "There's been no recent communication at all – nothing in the mail, nothing on the email, they've never called."

Mr Talbot called CBA a fortnight after registering in early July to check on the claim and was called back a week later requesting contact details and promising information on the claim process would be sent by the end of August. On August 30, he sent an email to the program saying the documents had not been received.

A week later, on September 5, the bank emailed back to say it was "taking every possible step" to ensure a pack was received by the end of September.

But there has been no further correspondence and no pack has been received.

Mr Talbot suspects many other former CBA clients will be in the same boat. "These are people who have put the most important financial assets in CBA's control, they have been badly let down, and now they are just expecting to receive proper consideration. But they are not even getting out the most basic registration package. How hard could that be, how much time do they want to get out a simple registration pack? I see this as another delaying tactic. The longer they hold on to this, the more people will drop out, and give up in frustration."

A CBA spokesman said over the weekend the bank had sent information packs "to the majority of customers who have registered for the program" and "we have spoken to almost all customers who have registered and will continue to proactively contact our customers as the review of their advice gets underway".

"We are determined to ensure the program demonstrates the right level of independence and transparency. We have a choice of doing this quickly or properly.  We have chosen to do this properly," the spokesman said.

CBA said in an update on Sunday that 4,200 clients have registered seeking a review as part of the program. The bank said almost all customers who have registered have been contacted, and information packs have been distributed to the majority of customers.

Jeff Morris, the original whistleblower who revealed CBA's misconduct to ASIC, says he remains in contact with many victims of the financial planning debacle and he suspects Mr Talbot's experience is widespread.

"CBA are playing it as they go along," Mr Morris said. "They are very lackadaisical. There doesn't seem to be any haste. This just grounds people down: they have to go through this whole information pack process before they get any access to an advocate. Many people will just fall away."

As well as the appointment of Promontory, CBA has established an independent review panel chaired by retired High Court judge Ian Callinan and have appointed McGrathNicol as the program's independent forensic expert. Fiona Guthrie, executive director of Financial Counselling Australia, has also been appointed as a consultant expert adviser to the program.

But Mr Morris questioned the independence of the process, saying that despite the appointment of the panel and advocates, the bank was still controlling the process.

"It is recruiting judges of their own choice, but the most obnoxious part is purporting to appoint independent consumer advocates for them. I would like to represent some victims, but the bank said it only wanted to deal with three law firms [Shine Lawyers, Slater & Gordon and Maurice Blackburn]," Mr Morris said.

Comment: Storm victims unhappy with Banker Mate Judge Callinan.

Mr Talbot said he had gained knowledge about how big organisations work having been a director of what is now Australia's largest general insurer [NRMA is now owned by IAG], and suspects the motive for CBA announcing the review program was to "get the public and Parliament off their back".

"It was ill-prepared and the advice review program is a PR stunt because obviously they can't even get the paperwork together," he said.  

Mr Talbot became a victim of bad CBA advice after funds from a property sale invested in a CBA interest-bearing deposit were lured into the financial planning business after a local branch manager introduced him to a financial planner. After being charged $10,000 for a financial plan, Mr Talbot was invested in high-growth options that sustained big losses.

"The Minister and the Parliament should have real concerns as to whether this review, including its timetable, is genuine," Mr Talbot said. "It's just a further delay, and it's quite cruel to hold this out to people, and then to just not deliver. What they have so far paid out in compensation does not even equal one year's advertising budget for the CBA."