The ANZ Bank is bringing in an outsider to help it decide whether it’s doing the right thing by customers.
Colin Neave, the current Commonwealth ombudsman, starts as customer fairness advisor at the ANZ Bank early in 2017.
The new role is designed to help improve fairness of the bank’s products and services for retail, small business and wealth customers.
He reports to CEO Shayne Elliott who faced intense questioning at a parliamentary inquiry in October after a series of scandals among the big four banks including poor advice from financial advisers and the withholding of insurance payouts.
At the inquiry, Elliott agreed that there’s been some appalling behaviour by a few at his bank but rejected the idea that the entire bank has a blokey culture.
However, he said: “I think as an industry we’ve lost touch with our customers. We’ve become too internally focused and lost sight.”
Neave will soon leave his role as Commonwealth Ombudsman and will be based at the ANZ Bank in Melbourne.
He is a former chief ombudsman of the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Australian Banking Industry Ombudsman, chair of the Legal Services Board of Victoria and Vice Chair of the Australian Press Council.
Elliott says the appointment is designed to help the bank more consistently deliver fair and responsible banking.
“Colin’s deep experience in financial services, examining and resolving the most difficult of issues, makes him the ideal person to provide us with frank and independent assessments of the fairness of our products and services,” he says.
“This includes the impact they have on customers, particularly those in vulnerable situations.”
His initial focus will be to help the bank listen and to better understand the key retail and small banking issues by speaking to our customers and relevant stakeholders.
“As a first step Colin will help us establish our Remediation Principles so that we have a consistent set of standards we stick to when things do go wrong,” the CEO says.
“He will also conduct a fairness feview of our core retail deposit and credit products to ensure they continue to operate fairly, including their fees and charges. Our decade old basic banking account, for the most vulnerable, will be part of this review.”