More than 10,000 Commonwealth Bank customers have responded to chief executive Matt Comyn’s request for feedback on how the bank does business.
Mr Comyn wrote to the bank’s eight million customers after Australia’s largest lender was embroiled in a series of scandals including the money-laundering law breaches that led to a $700 million fine and the departure of his predecessor.
The bank, which like its peers has been accused at the financial services royal commission for prioritising profits over customer wellbeing, is now looking at how to address the sometimes critical responses.
“I have received more than 10,000 responses: a mixture of complaints, compliments, and general suggestions from our customers on how we can become a better bank,” Mr Comyn told Wednesday’s annual general meeting in Brisbane.
“My leadership team and I are personally engaging in long-standing disputes to review these with fresh eyes.”
Mr Comyn said deputy chief executive David Cohen will take direct responsibility for complaints management.
He announced that Patricia Faulkner – the deputy commissioner at the 2015 royal commission on family violence – will chair an external advisory panel advising executives on how to engage with customers, employees and the community.
Chair Catherine Livingstone told the AGM that CBA, which on Wednesday announced first-quarter unaudited cash profit fell 5.7 per cent to $2.5 billion, acknowledged the royal commission’s criticism that customers had suffered from the bank’s focus on profitability.
“When people or processes failed, there were neither the systems nor processes in place to identify and fix the problems, nor a sufficient sense of urgency to identify the root cause, and take steps to prevent similar issues arising again,” Ms Livingstone said.
“Our focus on improving overall customer satisfaction also obscured and distracted us from focusing on customer dissatisfaction, which would have alerted us to many of these issues sooner.”
Commonwealth Bank in August posted a 4.8 per cent drop in full-year profit to $9.23 billion, hit by a total of more than $1 billion in anti-money laundering fines, customer remediation and royal commission costs.
First-quarter unaudited earnings fell as higher funding costs and competition for borrowers putting pressure on margins.
Cash earnings for the three months to September 30 fell from $2.65 billion a year ago, the bank said in a trading update ahead of Wednesday’s annual general meeting in Brisbane.
Home lending grew 3.1 per cent on an annualised basis, below system growth of 3.6 per cent.
Impaired assets rose to $6.6 billion from $6.1 billion the same time a year ago, with personal loan, credit card and mortgage arrears all ticking up.
Home loans 90 days or more overdue rose from 0.59 per cent a year ago to 0.67 per cent, although that was down from 0.70 per cent at the end of the last quarter.
But household deposits jumped 8.9 per cent in the quarter, while funds under administration and assets under management also rose.