ANZ Bank CEO says banking industry has lost touch with customers

The logo of the ANZ Banking Group is displayed in the window of a newly opened branch in central Sydney, Australia.
The logo of the ANZ Banking Group is displayed in the window of a newly opened branch in central Sydney, Australia. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - The head of Australia's ANZ Bank said he believed banking bosses had been hauled before a parliamentary committee because the industry had lost touch with its customers, as he backed the introduction of consumer-friendly initiatives proposed by lawmakers designed to increase competition.

Shayne Elliott was the second CEO of the nation's "Big Four" banks to face three hours of grilling this week by the committee, which was formed after a series of industry scandals involving misleading financial advice, insurance fraud and interest-rate rigging.

"I think that as an industry we have lost touch with our customers and we have become too internally focused and forgotten our role in society and the community at large," Mr Elliott told the committee on Wednesday (Oct 5), adding that had led to bad behaviour and poor culture.

The committee proposed to call the bank bosses at least annually, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday indicated more appearances could be required. "I would expect the committee will ask the banks to come back more than once a year," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.

During his testimony Mr Elliott, like Commonwealth Bank of Australia chief executive Ian Narev on Tuesday, said he was open to a proposal to set up a banking tribunal to arbitrate between aggrieved customers and the banks.

Mr Elliott also backed a potential move by lawmakers that would force banks to transfer customer data to other institutions to make it easier to switch banks, which can be a long and cumbersome process at present. "Absolutely we should enable that," he said.

Mr Elliott said he would not take issue with a proposal by committee chairman David Coleman to make it easier to set up new banks in Australia, where the Big Four control 80 per cent of the lending market. The proposal could involve lowering capital requirements and a 15 per cent shareholder cap, Mr Coleman said.