The Commonwealth’s Ian Narev tells parliament he wants to rebuild trust with the public

Ian Narev. Image: Broadcast from House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics

Commonwealth Bank CEO Ian Narev opened his second appearance before a parliamentary committee saying he wanted to rebuild trust with the public.

“We must have the trust of the public,” he told the committee.

“We did not do enough to build and maintain that trust. We made mistakes.”

The committee is, in the words of its chairman Liberal MP David Coleman, holding “the banking sector to account before the parliament”.

The banks have been hit by a series of scandals including faulty financial planning advice to customers, restricting payouts for disability insurance claims and allegations of rigging the bank bill swap rate.

At the first parliamentary hearings in October, the CEOs admitted to the past shortcomings in their organisations, apologised and promised to do better.

A key theme of questioning at the parliamentary hearings has been why no senior executives have lost their jobs at the banks despite a series of “rip-offs” being exposed at the banks.

NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn faced intense questioning over the lack of accountability, and consequences, for senior executives when he appeared before the committee last week.

Today, that questioning continued with Narev agreeing with Cameron that no senior executives had lost their job over both the financial planning failures and the CommInsure scandal where sick policyholders where denied payouts.

Then followed a series of exchanges over the committee’s proposal to publicly name senior executives when there had been a breach of a bank’s licence.

Cameron: “Do you object top senior executives being publicly named?”

Narev: “Our executives are entitled to the same due process anyone would have.”

The bank CEO then said he believed his senior executives were accountable, felt accountable and that any threat to name someone would improve that accountability.

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