Here's How The 'Culture Of Defensiveness' Works At The Commonwealth Bank

Ian Narev / CBA

The Commonwealth Bank tends to go into defence mode when someone criticizes the big bank.

Ian Narev should know how it works. He’s the CEO.

He spoke about company culture today at the press conference he called to apologise for the failure of his financial planners and the announce a new compensation program for customers.

Narev said everyone at the bank thought it was an excellent scheme when the bank first started a compensation program in 20012 for customers who lost money because of poor advice .

But when people started saying this wasn’t doing enough, the bank thought “people are just trying to get us to unfairly do more”.

“It’s an attitude of defensiveness rather more than the culture,” Narev said.

Narev says the bank asks itself this question a lot: “What is it like for an individual to deal with a big organisation like the Commonwealth Bank?”

However, he says there are times when you’ve got to be hard.

“When you are running an organisation like this you would be staggered at how many people are trying to have a go at the Commonwealth Bank,” he told the press conference.

“Or I am sure any of the major banks just because we are big. And they feel that even if we haven’t done any wrong somehow we put them right because it’s a small amount of money.”

Narev says the bank has to ensure it’s compassionate and to take a long view to business.

“There will be occasions when some of our people will not act to expectations,” he says.

“Our goal is to set a culture which balances the interests of customers and shareholders well and make sure we’re doing our best to minimise the poor decision making and then when it happens put it right.”

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