I wish we had acted sooner says NAB chairman

The chairman of National Australia Bank (NAB), Ken Henry has told the Royal Commission he wishes the bank’s board had stepped in earlier to resolve a financial advice customer remediation process which had taken more than three years.

In a curt exchange with counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, Rowena Orr QC, Henry said the board had been angered by a highly critical letter received from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) referring to the bank’s approach to customer remediation.

However, he said that receipt of the letter had represented a “turning point” and that the bank’s management had, at the insistence of the board, acted urgently to address the issue.

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Asked why the board had not stepped in earlier, Henry said he wished it had.

Questioned by Orr why the board had not told the bank’s management to “get it fixed and get it fixed now”, Henry said that while those words might not have been used, the management could not have mistaken the attitude of the board.

“We were pretty cross,” he said.

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