Outgoing National Australia Bank chief executive Cameron Clyne rejects the assertion that banks are bastards.
But Mr Clyne, who retires on Thursday, says banks need to do more to lift their reputation among customers.
In an interview on Fairfax radio, talkback host Neil Mitchell put it to Mr Clyne: “Banks are bastards, aren’t they?”
Mr Clyne said the banking industry had done much to improve its relationship with customers but still had a long way to go.
“Banks have to improve their reputation,” he said.
Mr Clyne said Australia had a great banking system but had not done enough in explaining its benefits and the multi-billion dollar profits reaped by the big four banks.
“The issue of profits is one where we still haven’t got a message across to customers that 75 or 80 per cent of our profits goes back to superannuation funds and those sort of things,” Mr Clyne said.
National Australia Bank booked an annual net profit of $5.45 billion in 2013, while its bigger rival Commonwealth Bank made a record $7.7 billion.
On the economy and politics, Mr Clyne said that the budget impasse in the Australian parliament was creating uncertainty and consequently affecting confidence.
“People don’t want to make big investments in an uncertain environment,” Mr Clyne said.
The outgoing banking boss also added himself to the list of critics of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave scheme, saying Australia could not afford it.
The scheme, if implemented, would cost National Australia Bank $100 million and would not improve the participation of women in the workforce.
Mr Clyne said feedback that he received from National Australia Bank’s workforce indicated that the biggest barrier to women re-entering the workforce was childcare.
“If I could spend that $100 million on childcare as opposed to a paid parental leave scheme, that would be far more productive,” Mr Clyne said.
Meanwhile, Mr Clyne believes interest rates in Australia had bottomed out, despite still being higher than in many other parts of the world.
Many economists believe the Reserve Bank will hold its cash rate steady at 2.5 per cent until 2015, when they expect a rise will be on the cards.