NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn and chairman Ken Henry quit

Lloyd Doyle
February 9, 2019

NAB chair Ken Henry said he would soon retire, while CEO Andrew Thorburn announced his resignation, both saying they were "deeply sorry" in the wake of a damning report detailing rampant customer abuse in the industry.

The two were subject to scathing assessments in the report from commissioner Kenneth Hayne.

One said there was only one option for the position, given Mr Chronican is "one of the most trusted" bankers in the country.

More particularly, I was not persuaded that NAB is willing to accept the necessary responsibility for deciding, for itself, what is the right thing to do, and then having its staff act accordingly. "As a result, I spoke with the board and offered to step down as CEO, and they have accepted my offer", Thorburn said. Overall, my fear - that there may be a wide gap between the public face NAB seeks to show and what it does in practice - remains.

Thorburn will finish up at the end of the month with current NAB director Philip Chronican to take over as acting chief executive until a permanent appointment was made.

But UBS analyst Jon Mott said Baird, who began his banking career in 1989 at NAB's St Ives branch before entering politics, was a real contender.

In the banking royal commission's final report, Mr Hayne said he had doubts that NAB had learned from its past mistakes, and criticised Mr Thorburn's characterisation of the fees-for-no-service scandal as "nothing more than carelessness".

I can't tell you how many times I've relived that appearance, I understand the criticism.

'I have always sought to act in the best interests of the bank and customers and I know that I have always acted with integrity.

Thorburn, who was chief executive since August 2014, had been keen to continue but recognised the NAB board's "desire for change".

NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn and chairman Dr Ken Henry are stepping down.

Chronican said he recognised the "important responsibility in stepping into this role at a hard time for NAB" and promised its "existing strategy" and self-assessment will ensure it wins back trust and respect.

"This is naturally a hard decision but I believe the board should have the opportunity to appoint a new chair for the next period as NAB seeks to reset its culture and ensure all decisions are made on behalf of customers", he said.

Henry, whose brusque demeanour during questioning was one of the enduring images of the royal commission, said he has reflected in recent times on NAB's "inability as a company to meet community expectations and customer expectations in the manner we would aspire to".

"Andrew and I are deeply sorry for this".

Although Henry insisted the decision was "not made in reaction to any specific event", in a teleconference after the announcement Thorburn conceded it was those observations by Hayne that had "caused the discussions this week" leading to their resignations.

Henry said the board would bring on new non-executive directors this year to increase its diversity of thinking and establish a committee for customer outcomes. It will also establish a board committee for customer outcomes.

It was up 1.3 per cent to 24.93 at the time.

Hayne's criticism of NAB was searing.

I'm sad to be leaving NAB in these circumstances, but it's absolutely the right thing to do, it gives NAB the opportunity to reset.
"We've got an absolute mountain to climb in NAB in order to achieve our aspiration for the bank", although it was on the right path.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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