ANZ favours reviews over royal commission

ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott believes bank customers benefit more from reviews focused on single issues than they would from a wide-ranging but slow-moving royal commission into the entire industry.

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Mr Elliott’s rejection of a royal commission came on Tuesday as he appeared before a parliamentary committee, also saying that the bank has had up to 100 whistleblowers annually in recent years.

“We get about 70 to 100 every year, about half of those in Australia, half outside,” Mr Elliott told the House of Representatives economics committee hearing in Canberra.

“About 40 per cent of them after investigation have some merit, and are taken further.”

ANZ had never had an incident where somebody complained of being unfairly treated or faced any consequences as a result of making a report, he said, with many whistleblowers remaining anonymous.

Earlier on Tuesday, Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev had bristled at the suggestion during that a royal commission was necessary.

Mr Elliott told the same committee that it was simply easier to tackle customer problems in isolation.

“We’re already getting change in our industry: we are making real change,” Mr Elliott said.

“We think it is more effective to have narrowly focused targeted reviews that get things done rather than involving us in a multi-year process with uncertain terms of reference,” Mr Elliott said.

But Mr Elliott he would have no problem if the competition watchdog was asked to start monitoring the banking sector on a systemic basis.

Mr Narev and National Australia Bank’s Andrew Thorburn both told MPs there is no need for additional oversight, but Mr Elliott told the committee that he would have no problem if the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission became involved.

“I have no issue with that whatsoever,” Mr Elliott said.

Mr Elliott said that declining net interest margins – the difference between what a bank makes on loans and what it pays to fund them – and customer churn suggested that banking competition is already strong.