Banking Royal Commission reveals trust deficits in financial institutions



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Speaking at a CEDA event in Brisbane on how major Australian corporates are repositioning in the wake of the Royal Commission into Banking and Financial Services, AustralianSuper Group Executive, Paul Schroder has shared ten truths about trust.

“The first is that trust is in the eye of the beholder, citizens want to trust, customers want to trust, but as organisations I think we can only ever aspire to be trustworthy,” he said.

“The second of my truths is that trust is an indication of your preparedness to be vulnerable or reveal yourself to be vulnerable.

“The third of these is that you can be trusted for one thing but not for another.”

The fourth truth, he said, is that trust is made up of three components – competence, benevolence and character.

“The fifth of my truths is that trustworthiness is incremental and it’s all your actions through time by everybody,” he said.

“The sixth is that as trust diminishes in all other sorts of institutions the demand for trust from you and your organisation rises.

“The seventh is that trustworthiness starts with strategic intent and it needs to be led from the top by the executive and senior management, and management and individuals in the organisation and all of your business partners.

“My eighth truth I think is possibly the most challenging and it’s this, you can only ever be trusted as much as your employees trust you and trust each other.

“The ninth is that when something untrustworthy is happening you need to act very quickly and I think that’s what we saw in the Royal Commission, it didn’t expect organisations to be perfect but when something went wrong the Royal Commission said when did you find out, what did you do about it, how did you put it right and what have you put in place to stop it happening again?

“The tenth of my truths about trust, learnt through our experiences, through the Royal Commission and research in conjunction with other organisations is this, that trust is incrementally earned, slowly, through all your actions, and that trust is easily burnt.”

RACQ Bank Chief Executive Officer, Michelle Bagnall said that the Royal Commission was less of a wakeup call to the member owned organisation, however valuable lessons were learnt along with future challenges.

“Making these decisions every day and walking that line between making decisions for the member from the member and building a business that is sustainable over the long term is a harder line to walk,” she said.

“We have a trust measure that we use to measure longevity, so we measure over time for our members and I think it’s fair to say our trust measure for our members is our key measure that we hang off, we don’t fall below 90 per cent on trust, I think we’re sitting on about 92 per cent at the moment.

“The Royal Commission tried to solve some illnesses and those illnesses come from a place of, I’ll use Hayne’s words not mine, they come from a place of greed.

“They come from a place of when you’re driving to maximise profits they are the behaviours that emerge.

“The Royal Commission tried to face into those consequences, the challenge we now face as a customer owned banking institution is that actually we’re going to have to take the same medicine as the rest of the banking industry even though we don’t face into the same illnesses.

“We need to shift the paradigm of what best looks like and actually start to have a conversation around a balanced approach.

“It’s important that we shift that to say that there are two ways of working here in banking, or more, let’s not treat them equally, or let’s not treat them the same because they’re not and the issues that face into listed Australian banks are not the same issues that customer owned banks actually face into.”

Australian Financial Complaints Authority Lead Ombudsman – Insurance, John Price said that as an independent body, AFCA will work with whatever government is in place to implement the incoming recommendations.

“We’re looking overall at having around 80,000 disputes in a 12-month period, roughly 30 per cent more than what was estimated by the three predecessor bodies,” he said.

“Trust and confidence sit at the centre of the relationship between industry and consumers, consumers agree to engage in that contract with the insurer not only as a legal contract but also as a social contract.

“Just look at what the Royal Commission unearthed with the banks, I’m in complaints but I never expected that level of complaint or level of behaviour from the banks that was brought out in the Royal Commission.

“We want to play our part at AFCA in rebuilding trust.

“We appreciate that our approach must be evidence based and certainly some criticism has been delivered at the predecessor schemes where people thought our approach was more subjective.

“Unfortunately fairness is subjective in nature but we need to explain how we’ve reached those positions.

“We also as part of this, if we’re expecting the industry to reform itself, to change its standards, then we need to look at ourselves, we need to have a good look at how we approach things.

“We can’t ask others to do what we wouldn’t ask ourselves to do, we’ve already commenced an audit process of our decision making.

“The early stage is very positive.”

Event presentations

Paul Schroder, AustralianSuper MP3

Michelle Bagnall, RACQ Bank MP3

John Price, Australian Financial Complaints Authority MP3 | PDF

Moderated discussion MP3

Delegate handout PDF