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Nobody’s perfect: NAB responds to royal commission

NAB, royal commission

The major casualty of the royal commission’s superannuation hearings has defended its conduct, arguing that while it’s “not perfect”, the commission’s proposed findings are too harsh.

In a submission to the royal commission, NULIS, the trustee for NAB, said while it “is not perfect”, it has learnt from its mistakes.

Further, the embattled trustee argued some of the proposed findings would, if accepted, “represent a significant departure from the law as currently understood”.

“NAB recognises that creating the right culture is a top priority for all of its leaders. NAB’s culture is underpinned by a clear vision, values and behaviours focused on the customer and a robust governance framework,” the trustee pled.

Over a marathon questioning, the royal commission heard how an error saw thousands of customers pay fees for services they didn’t receive after they were transferred between different products.  

It also heard how the bank continued charging fees for advice to some super customers after they had died.

As it stands, the lender is paying more than $100 million in compensation.

NULIS pointed this out, characterising its wealth business as on a “journey of continuous improvement” designed to “uplift its standards” and shift to a customer-centric culture.

What is the best interests duty anyway?

Responding to proposed findings that it had failed to act in members’ best interests, NULIS contended that the best interests duty in question is not actually an “obligation at large” to act in members’ best interests generally.

“Rather, it is a covenant to ‘perform the trustee’s duties and exercise the trustee’s powers in the best interest of the beneficiaries.”

NULIS said the law was in place to qualify the performance of specific duties or powers, and noted the commission’s proposed findings did not specify the particular duty or power.

The trustee added that the evidence establishes that it has “at all times, prioritised the interests of members”.

“While NULIS acknowledges that this error should not have occurred in the first place, members from whose accounts PSFs were incorrectly deducted were remediated in full,” it said.

No more grandfathered commissions

The financial services giant also announced on Monday that it would no longer accept grandfathered commissions from its wealth product providers.

“We need to continue to focus on customers and keep finding ways to improve, to lift and to rebuild trust,” NAB Group CEO Andrew Thorburn said.

“To do this we must continue our important work to transform the bank to be simpler, faster – and better.”

According to NAB, 32,000 customers will benefit through fee rebates and reductions in effect from 1 January 2019.

Further, NAB pushed for a “complete move” at an industry level away from grandfathered commissions.

Nobody’s perfect: NAB responds to royal commission
NAB, royal commission
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