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CBA makes second defence against comp scheme scandal

CBA has written a lengthy letter to the Senate Economics References Committee, countering accusations that its compensation scheme is unfair and calling the Senate's interest in the matter "extremely disappointing".

The bank's group executive of wealth management, Annabel Spring, said the testimony by former employee Russell Phillips at a Senate hearing last week was "highly misleading and often fundamentally wrong".

Ms Spring said that as at 31 October, the bank has offered $1.77 million to 110 customers who had received bad advice. She added that CBA stands by the quality and integrity of the program and will not "allow these issues to be misrepresented".

"It is therefore extremely disappointing that the views of one former employee, who worked for the program for a total of 13 weeks, who was part of the review of fewer than 20 customer cases and who was dismissed for improper conduct, would warrant a full public hearing of the committee," Ms Spring said.

CBA's Open Advice Review program was set up more than a year ago in response to victims who lost money via its financial planning arm.

Mr Phillips, who was an assessor with the program, told senators the bank's compensation scheme lacks integrity and does not allow assessors to meet with clients.

Ms Spring, however, said this was misleading.


"Mr Phillips was in the assessment team, which is just one component of a comprehensive and customer-focused approach to case assessment and review. Due to his brief employment with the program, Mr Phillips may not have been exposed to every step in the process," she said.

"Assessors do not talk to customers directly. Instead, this function is fulfilled by a separate team of review managers in Sydney with expertise in customer service and communication.

"Once a customer's assessment begins, they are assigned a designated review manager who helps customers to understand the process, the assessment that has been made, and answers any questions."

Ms Spring added that the program employs 160 case assessors, not 80 as the committee heard, and that it is inaccurate to claim that only two weeks of training is provided.

"In the circumstances referred to in the hearing, only two weeks of training was required for Mr Phillips because he only needed to complete a 'top-up' course due to having previously completed RG 146," she said.

Ms Spring reiterated her offer from last week, which invites the committee to visit the Open Advice Review program premises and view the procedures and practices directly.

At the same time, CBA has posted unaudited cash earnings for the three months ending on 30 September of $2.4 billion. Statutory net profit on an unaudited basis for the same period was $2.3 billion.