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Royal Commission: how we’re fixing for the future

09:35am March 14 2018

Brian Hartzer says Westpac has already reviewed around 320 products and made 151 changes as part of its “get it right, put it right” philosophy. (Getty Images)

There’s no glossing over it.

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry will generate many headlines about where we at Westpac haven’t got it right for customers.

The hearings will bring up examples that I know I’ll find uncomfortable and disappointing to hear about, showing that over the last decade there have been too many cases where we have not treated customers with the respect they deserve.

The hearings, and the Royal Commission overall, will be a dynamic process and we can’t predict the direction they will take. What is clear is that we have more work to do to make our systems and processes more reliable, make sure we’re getting it right for our customers every time, and importantly that we learn from the things that go wrong.

I also know that some of the examples in the Royal Commission hearings don’t represent our purpose or who we are as an organisation. Westpac exists to help our customers, communities, and people to prosper and grow, as we have for more than 200 years. While we don’t shy away from the fact that things have gone wrong from time to time, the vast majority of our people come to work every day with the best intentions and our values at the core of what they do. Integrity must be at the heart of everything we do. As a bank that helps Australia grow, anything less is not acceptable.

As part of our “get it right, put it right” philosophy, we’re acknowledging where we’ve got things wrong, and taking steps to put it right and make sure that the issues don’t recur.  It involves reviewing some of our products, processes, and policies to ensure they serve customers’ best interests and meet today’s community standards. We’ve already reviewed around 320 products and made 151 changes, such as improving our disclosure around certain Foreign Exchange fees on credit card purchases after some customers who had been traveling told us they could be clearer.

These are just some of our initiatives – on top of actions underway in partnership with our broader industry and regulators – to ensure we step up to the plate for customers, and stamp out situations where things go wrong.

I’m proud of the progress, and alert that there’s more to do.

The Royal Commission process will be a lengthy one that generates much media, political, regulatory and public attention. But I’m confident our commitment to approach it with transparency, integrity and empathy puts us on the right path to becoming one of the world’s great service companies.

Brian joined Westpac as Chief Executive, Australian Financial Services in 2012 and was Managing Director & CEO from 2015 to 2019. Prior to joining Westpac, Brian spent three years in the UK as CEO for Retail, Wealth and Ulster Bank at the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, ten years with ANZ in Australia and ten years as a financial services consultant in New York, San Francisco and Melbourne. He graduated from Princeton University with a degree in European History and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.

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