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  • 'The royal commission was right': Acting NAB CEO Phil Chronican
  • By James Thomson
  • 02/03/2019 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: Sime ( 1 article in 2019 )
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Acting NAB chief executive Phil Chronican has wasted no time in putting his stamp on the business, making customer remediation his top priority and declaring his senior leaders must obsess about customer service.

Mr Chronican officially started as acting chief executive on Friday, having replaced Andrew Thorburn, who resigned with chairman Ken Henry after the pair were brutally criticised by the banking royal commission for not appreciating the depths of NAB's cultural problems.

But in a note sent to his top 100 leaders on Thursday evening, Mr Chronican made his views on the commission clear.

Phil Chronican: "I am focused on making sure we compensate customers as quickly as possible; and on fixing the issues that caused the failure." Louie Douvis

"The royal commission is right. There is a big gap between where we are today, and where our customers, shareholders and the community expect us to be," he said.

Mr Chronican, who previously ran ANZ's Australian operations and has been a board member at NAB since 2006, said the key to "driving the cultural shift that our customers and the community demand" was a focus on customer service.

"We need to bring the same obsession to customer outcomes that airline companies do to safety. We must deliver an exceptional experience, ensure our products and services provide fair value, and be uncompromising on accountability, quality and standards."

To ram home his message, Mr Chronican has also cancelled two major leadership events – one for the bank's top 600 leaders, and another for the top 100 leaders – to ensure executives are focused on customers and frontline banking staff during the current period.

"We are the bank's most senior leaders: we need to run the bank – and we need to change it.

"We need to own this. It starts and stops with us."

It is understood Mr Chronican held meetings with a number of teams across the bank over past few days, and was due to hold "town hall" meetings with teams today at the bank's Melbourne headquarters on Friday.

"In the past two weeks I've met with a range of customers, our remediation teams, visited our transformation team, small business bankers and our branches," he said in his note.

"It's clear our people do great work every day: serving customers, finding solutions, fixing issues and paying back customers what they are owed. In many ways, they embody the NAB we want to be."

Mr Chronican also paid tribute to Mr Thorburn, who finished at the bank on Thursday.

"I want to acknowledge his time as CEO and thank him for his substantial contribution to the bank. Andrew led a major transformation of our bank, divesting legacy assets and focusing on our core business. He was also deeply committed to making NAB a better bank for customers."

The NAB board is hunting for a new chief executive in a process led by director Anne Sherry.

Internal candidates are likely to include former NSW premier and the head of NAB's institutional bank, Mike Baird, as well as Angela Mentis, who has been running NAB's New Zealand operations since January last year, and Anthony Healy, who runs NAB's business bank.

But Mr Chronican himself is seen as an outside chance to take the top job on a permanent basis.

NAB shares have risen about 5 per cent since the release of the royal commission's final report.


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