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BFCSA: CommBank Ian Narev handed a bundle of low notes. Where is Ralph Norris?

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Ian Narev must show he won’t let planners crisis go to waste

THE old adage says you should never waste a good crisis and the question being asked is whether that is exactly what CBA chief Ian Narev is doing with his financial planner crisis.   Narev yesterday sent an email to staff saying, “As I’m sure you do, I feel very disturbed by the actions of those advisers, and the resulting impact on our customers, even though the events happened years ago.’’  Finance Minister Matthias Cormann takes the same attitude, arguing in response to a question from this column that the industry has changed and the rules were now in place even after his FoFA changes, which lower the bar for the big banks.  “The events investigated by the Senate committee happened sometime in the past, incidentally over the period of the previous government,” Cormann said..................Narev stressed that most staff do the right thing.  “Ethical organisations listen. ............


The events which were at the centre of the Senate inquiry were primarily under the reign of Ralph Norris, who ran the bank for six years until 2011 and who, until now, is seen as being the industry doyen.  Quite clearly, with Storm and now this, it was not quite as good as it seemed under the man who built his reputation on his IT skills and as the customer champion.  Narev has been in charge for three years and during that time has moved Grahame Petersen — the man who was ultimately in charge of wealth — to business banking.  He installed Annabel Spring to wealth and finally she appears to have made the changes necessary to ensure that when people talk to a Commonwealth bank adviser they can actually trust him or her and management will be watching.

But culture and ethics cannot be drilled into staff in a two-hour session at the local school; it’s a way of doing business which must be instilled from the top.  As to other executives in charge at the time of the issues investigated by the Senate — Brian Bissaker now runs Virgin Money and Tim Gunning is boss at Ord Minnett, both customer facing consumer finance houses.  When David Murray acquired Colonial he housed it separately, thinking the bank didn’t understand it — but now it does and it will be a crucial issue for Murray’s financial services inquiry..

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CBA fallout widens as government mulls compo

By Adele Ferguson, Ben Butler June 28, 2014

The Abbott government has put intense pressure on Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev to make a more ''considered'' public response to the bank's financial planning scandal, possibly including a beefed-up compensation scheme costing hundreds of millions of dollars.  The government's efforts to squeeze a more generous settlement from the bank comes as it seeks to shore up political support for its controversial wind-back of consumer protections in the former Labor government's Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) laws.  A Senate inquiry this week called for a royal commission into the bank because the regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, was ''reluctant to actively pursue misconduct''.

Mr Narev is also believed to be under pressure from the government to reshuffle executive ranks over the debacle.  Pressure is also mounting from within the bank for Mr Narev, who has been largely absent from the public debate over allegations of forgery, fraud and a management cover-up within CBA's financial planning division, to step into the spotlight ''so clients can see the bank is taking it seriously''.  Finance Minister Mathias Cormann this week met Mr Narev to discuss the scandal and the Senate inquiry's findings. On Friday, Senator Cormann was talking down the inquiry's recommendation for a royal commission into CBA.  There has only been one royal commission focusing on a single company in living memory, into the collapse of insurer HIH in 2001.

Broadcaster Alan Jones, the Greens and industry super funds have thrown their weight behind a royal commission, with Jones asking Prime Minister Tony Abbott to call one ''immediately'' during his breakfast radio slot on 2GB on Friday. However, Senator Cormann said arguments against a royal commission mounted in a dissenting report tabled by the committee's deputy chairman, Liberal senator David Bushby, were ''persuasive''.  In a statement, CBA also pointed to Senator Bushby's six-page dissent, and said it had ''worked openly and transparently'' with the inquiry and ASIC.  A CBA spokeswoman said Mr Narev was not available for comment.  While not ruling out that a royal commission might eventually be needed, opposition financial services spokesman Bernie Ripoll said the government should first look at the results of inquiries already under way.

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