Two weeks ago, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia announced that retail banking head Matt Comyn would succeed Ian Narev as CEO.
Why 'banker' should start with a W
It was testament to the arrogance of the banks. It showed just how little the bank's chair, Katherine Livingston, considers ethics in her decision making -- also demonsrating that there is a glaring typo (albeit intended) every time ‘banker’ is spelt with a ‘b’.
I fully understand and embrace Livingstone’s point that appointing Comyn (well-mentored by Narev) is a signal to the market that the financially successful strategies being implemented by the bank will continue.
Read more from Subversive Sam: Who thinks Ian Narev is worth $12M a year?
Investors were always going to like this decision. It suggests a continuation of the strategy that last week delivered a $4.9 billion half-year net profit, even after providing for anticipated fines arising from recent questionable activities.
I understand why investors have viewed this in a positive light, but the rest of us should not.
A key responsibility of a CEO and his senior team is to create and maintain the culture of a business.
Yet the senior team at CBA, led by Ian Narev and including Matt Comyn, presided over a superannuation scandal, an insurance scandal, a money-laundering scandal and, some argue, an interest rate-fi scandal -- with a great deal more on top of this.
As a result, the bank is facing the prospect of having to pay a billion dollars or more in fines, as a result of just some of these scandals. Ian Narev himself, has admitted that these scandals have reflected cultural breakdowns at the CBA. To an outsider like me, this all reflects a culture of doing whatever is necessary to make as much money of possible.
To me, Katherine Livingston is sounding more and more like Gordon Gekko.
To me, Matt Comyn is sounding like a man who will carry on the questionable work of Ian Narev.
To me, the CBA is looking more like an evil empire with a culture that has not appreciation of ethics.
But they are no alone.
Anna Bligh -- the one-time premier of Queensland and champion of the downtrodden -- is now the CEO of the Australian Bankers Association, which represents the big banks and fought most stridently to prevent a royal commission into them.
To me, a royal commission is well overdue and Anna Bligh has now demonstrated that she is available to serve the highest bidder. I wonder if she ever had ethical standards?
But my greatest criticism is of you! Yes, you dear reader!!
I know you dislike the banks, but what have you done about it?
Have you changed the source of your home or car loan? Have you shifted your credit card to a credit union or one of the small banks? Have you lodged a complaint recently or done anything at all to demonstrate to the banks that you are unhappy with them?
Or are you hiding behind the ‘what difference can I make’ protective banner?
Well until we do something, nothing will change!
If you think that the scandals at the CBA will cease and that banks will begin behaving ethically because of a new CEO at CBA, or a royal commission stage-managed by a government that never wanted one, then you are sillier than you look.
I know I have not done enough!