We’ve had ‘significant failures,’ ANZ Bank tells royal commission

ANZ Bank chief executive Shayne Elliott says the bank’s initial submission to the royal commission underlines “significant failures over the last decade,” as the industry prepares for a wave of fierce scrutiny into misconduct.

The big four banks on Monday all lodged submissions with the inquiry summarising instances of misconduct over the past ten years, or areas where banks had fallen short of community standards, in response to a request from commissioner Kenneth Hayne.

The call for submissions from the banks is one way in which the royal commission, which has wide terms of reference, is identifying areas where it will focus. It is also taking submissions from members of the public consumer groups, and others.

While none of the banks released their submissions on Monday, Mr Elliott said seeing all the issues it raised in one document was “confronting,” even if many of the problems were already known.

Mr Elliott said in a note to ANZ staff that it was “completely unacceptable” the bank had caused some of its customers harm, and he was ultimately accountable for the failures.

“While I firmly believe we are now on the right path, our submission shows we’ve had significant failures over the last decade,” Mr Elliott said.

“We need to do more to make sure we meet our promises and keep up with changing community standards.”

Other major banks confirmed they had lodged their submissions, and signalled they had acted to deal with the instances of misconduct.

CBA chair Catherine Livingstone said the bank aimed to be “absolutely transparent” with the royal commission, and fixing problems that were identified.

“It is far better that we are aware of the issues and that we have identified the issues and that we are working on addressing the issues, than waiting for others to identify them,” Ms Livingstone said.

Westpac said its submission included instances where it had made mistakes, while it also set out how these had been addressed by the bank. “

National Bank’s chief legal and commercial counsel, Sharon Cook, said the bank would fully co-operate with the royal commission, and it respected the rights of NAB customers to make submissions to the commission if they wanted to.

“We will respect the processes that the Commissioner puts in place and now look forward to hearing from the Royal Commission as it considers all responses and submissions – and outlines the next steps,” Ms Cook said.

Banks abruptly changed their position and called for a royal commission last year as the government was losing political control of the issue in parliament. Mr Elliott said he hoped the inquiry would be a “watershed moment” that restored community trust in banks.

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