NAB: 'We have not done the right thing'

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NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn has written an open letter to customers, employees, shareholders and the community on the first day of hearings by the Royal Commission into financial services.

He says the NAB case study to be examined by the Royal Commission is into a number of home loans connected to NAB’s Introducer Program.

The NAB has dismissed 20 staff and taken disciplinary action against 32 others over home loans in NSW and Victoria approved with suspect paperwork.

In November last year, the bank said about 2300 home loans may have been issued without accurate information or documentation.

“While many of the details of this issue are already known, the focus of the Royal Commission will again demonstrate that what occurred is regrettable and unacceptable,” he says.

Since the issue was identified in 2015 via NAB’s whistleblower program, the bank has made extensive changes and started a remediation program for customers.

“There have been times in the past where we have not done the right thing for our customers,” sasy Thorburn.

“While many of these issues are public, we must continue to take action to strengthen our systems and processes so they don’t happen again.”

The letter in full:

    At NAB, we’re on a journey to grow and change — and be better for our customers. Today, before the Financial Services Royal Commission, we will be challenged to be even better.

    That’s because banks play a critical role in the community. We believe our key responsibility is to back people in their important financial decisions and grow a strong economy that creates more jobs. We help people to buy houses, start and grow businesses, keep their money safe, and through our profits help build wealth for the millions of Australians that invest in us through shares or their super funds.

    We do not take the privilege of this role lightly — and we live it through our purpose, to back the bold who move Australia forward.

    Our purpose guides us every day to be better, in the decisions that we make and the way we act. We are listening carefully to our customers so we can take action to provide them with the products and services they want and need. At the same time, we have been accelerating our plan to become a simpler, easier and faster bank to deal with. At an industry level, we are helping to create a better, stronger banking sector for all Australians so our country continues to be a great place to live, work and do business.

    As NAB appears for the first time at the Royal Commission, we are committed to fully participating and co-operating with the Royal Commission.

    The NAB case study that will be examined by the Royal Commission is into a number of home loans connected to NAB’s Introducer Program. While many of the details of this issue are already known, the focus of the Royal Commission will again demonstrate that what occurred is regrettable and unacceptable.

    It is important to note that since the issue was identified in 2015 via NAB’s whistleblower program, we have made extensive changes to our Introducer Program, worked closely with ASIC, fully reviewed the cause of the issue including engaging KPMG to carry out an investigation, and commenced a remediation program for customers. Twenty bankers in NSW and Victoria have had their employment terminated, or are no longer with NAB as a result of our investigation.

    As we’ve responded to the Royal Commission’s requests for information over the last few months, it’s an important and confronting reflection point for us that there have been times in the past where we have not done the right thing for our customers. While many of these issues are public, we must continue to take action to strengthen our systems and processes so they don’t happen again.

    The simple fact is that none of these issues are acceptable. They should not have happened in the first place, and they show that we haven’t always done right by our customers or treated the community with respect. This is not good enough.

    It’s important now for us to move forward by learning from the past, owning up to mistakes and fixing them – and importantly, making sure they never happen again. My commitment to you is that you will see NAB act throughout the Royal Commission and beyond in an open and transparent way.

    I encourage any customers who have concerns about their banking relationship with NAB, or are disappointed, frustrated or angry, to come and talk to us or make a submission to the Royal Commission. Our people may also be called on to participate in the Royal Commission, and we are committed to fully supporting them.

    It is by delivering for our customers each and every day that we will help people have confidence and trust in our bank, and grow so we help the community grow too.

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