Matt Comyn will be the new Chief Executive Officer of Australia’s biggest bank, the Commonwealth.
He says he aims to rebuild trust in the business, which has been hit by a string of controversies, including revelations last year of money laundering through its cash depositing facilities that allegedly totalled hundreds of millions of dollars.
The 42-year-old senior executive takes over on April 9 from Ian Narev who held the role for more than six years. He was a rising star and potential future CEO but there had been some doubts over his appointment because the retail group, which he led, had been at the centre of the money laundering troubles.
Comyn, currently Group Executive Retail Banking Services, says it is a great privilege to be selected to lead the Bank.
“CBA is both a significant Australian institution and a world class bank, with a proud history that has delivered great outcomes for its customers, shareholders and people for decades, and is well positioned to build on that success for many years to come,” Comyn says.
“I am excited by the opportunity to lead the organisation into this next phase of change and transformation. In terms of outcomes, I believe we can achieve the right balance in meeting the expectations of customers, shareholders and the community, with a sharp focus on our core purpose.”
During Narev’s term as CEO, CBA’s total shareholder return has been more than 120%.
Narev has been in the job since the end of 2011, bringing the bank to a record full year profit of almost $10 billion, and paying out billions in dividends to shareholders during his tenure.
However, the Commonwealth Bank has been hit by a series of scandals, the latest seeing the bank in court accused of breaching the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act over combined cash deposits of $624.7 million.
The Commonwealth CEO, along with the other major banks, has been called before a parliamentary committee to face questioning on the culture within Australia’s big banks.
The fact that no senior executive has lost their job following the scandals, including poor financial planning advice, has become a political issue with a Royal Commission now investigating.
Last year Narev and his senior management team lost their short term bonuses over the money laundering scandal.
Board directors also had their fees reduced by 20%. These fees range from $874,195 for the chair and about $300,000 for a non executive director.
“The last six months in particular have been very challenging and I am committed to working with the Board, the executive team and our wonderful people to rebuild trust in the Commonwealth Bank together,” Comyn says.
“It is important that we maintain the momentum underway, upgrading and strengthening our governance, accountability and risk management, while delivering strong financial performance. We are in a period of significant technology and competitive change, and I look forward to ensuring we remain at the forefront of technology, innovation and a great customer experience.”
The Commonwealth’s board of directors had the regulatory and reputational challenges of the bank high in mind when they selected Comyn.
Catherine Livingstone, the Chair of CBA, says the the Board concluded that Comyn has the best mix of attributes and values.
“We believe he was the outstanding candidate, best placed to lead the bank at an important time in its history,” says Livingstone.
“The Board’s main priorities in selecting the new CEO were to identify the candidate who will maintain the momentum in the business, and address the regulatory and reputational challenges and recognise evolving community expectations.
“The candidate also needs to transform the business and adapt the organisational capability and culture to suit the rapidly evolving competitive and technology-centric environment.
“Matt has gained respect across the banking sector both in Australia and globally. His track record is one of delivering very strong business performance, as well as a range of innovative, sustainable business improvements that have strengthened customer outcomes.”
Comyn’s base salary will be $2.2 million. He can double that with short term bonuses. Long term bonuses are about $3.96 million.
Ian Narev was in 2016 the eighth highest paid CEO of an ASX-listed company when he received $12.26 million.
However, according to the bank’s annual report, Narev’s total pay for 2017 came in at $5.7 million, short by almost $3 million had he realised all of his incentives and bonuses.