Peter Wilson - July 2018
We have been following the progress of the Royal Commission (RC) into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry with the testimonies and confronting evidence given about the inappropriate practices by the major banks, and the pain suffered by many customers as a result.
What does it mean for us at Bank First?
There is little doubt that all banks can learn from what's been happening at the Royal Commission, and we use the experiences of the major banks to confirm that at Bank First we are different, and have, and are, pursuing best practice and responsible conduct with our customers.
I think the lessons from the RC can be grouped into four areas. First there is product and service transparency in the relationship with our customers. This means we must explain clearly what customers can expect from our different products, and ensure the terms, obligations and risks of what they are taking on at the beginning, and also the go-forward risks and assessments that need to be undertaken are understood as part of our mutual relationship over the life of a product and our overall association. Many RC case studies have revealed failure by the major banks on these fronts.
Second the evidence at the RC shows we need to be alert and rectify errors promptly and take due care in effecting any changes in our service arrangements with customers, that explains causes and reasons simply and clearly.
Third we need to deliver on our values. Commissioner Kenneth Haynes has questioned all the major banks for saying they put customers first, when their communications haven't been that transparent; when they didn't intervene to correct prolonged systemic mistakes; when no service was delivered but fees deducted (sometimes to deceased persons); and when customers have been treated brutally and blind-sided on sudden termination of products or the total relationship. At Bank First we are proud to be able to stand behind our name in putting our customers first.
Finally, we can reflect on the RC experience in terms of our risk management and quality assurance functions. We must ensure we operate responsibly, comply with the requirements of our regulators, and also respond appropriately to customer needs and experiences, and respond to the competitive environment itself.
Your Bank First Board and senior management are monitoring these RC events closely. We have encouraged staff to follow the RC process closely, and to contribute ideas and suggestions that we can take on board for mutual benefit, and ensure we remain ahead of the game. As we must.