Australia's ANZ bank says it will take a tougher stance on bad banking, following the findings of a public inquiry. CEO Shayne Elliott said the impact ANZ had on individual customers "was embarrassing and shocking."
The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has fired more than 200 staff, including senior executives, for misconduct, Chief Executive Shayne Elliott said on Friday.
Testifying at a parliamentary committee hearing in Canberra, Elliott said he is ultimately responsible for the revelations that emerged from an Australian Royal Commission into financial services, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.
In almost 60 public hearings, the inquiry uncovered systemic problems in incentive schemes used to reward staff for selling products to people who did not need them or could not afford them.
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According to the report published last month, all four major Australian banks — ANZ, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corp and National Australia Bank — also charged customers for services-not-rendered and some took fees out of dead client accounts.
The year-long Royal Commission has received more than 9,000 submissions by distressed customers and has scrutinized a handful of specific cases that have stunned the country.
"It was pretty saddening to read the report. It made me feel embarrassed for the industry," said Elliott, who also chairs the lobby group, the Australian Bankers' Association.
"Seeing the impact that we've had on individual customers ... was embarrassing and shocking," he added.
Tougher stance on misconduct
Elliott said ANZ, Australia's third-biggest lender, would take a tougher approach to punishing bad conduct.
"We should dismiss people when they are grossly negligent or when they do things that are clearly bad and cause customer harm," Elliott told parliament's House Economics Committee. "My commitment is to make sure that I do hold people to account."
"It is completely unacceptable that we have caused financial harm and emotional stress to our customers," the ABC quoted Elliott as saying. "As CEO since 2016, I'm ultimately accountable for this," he added.
In the past year, about 10 senior ANZ executives had been dismissed for issues related to misconduct, Elliott said.
ANZ said on Monday it would take a AU$711 million ($506.5 million, €436.6 million) hit to its profit partly due to higher costs for compensating customers affected by poor banking practices.
The heads of Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp said at a parliamentary hearing on Thursday that they had been wrong to oppose the Royal Commission, a change in tone compared to the industry's response before the inquiry began in February.