Not all bank complaints are genuine, says CBA’s Narev

Unhappy customers are inevitable in the financial services industry, with some "acting improperly" towards CBA in an effort to get their way, says the bank's CEO.

In a keynote address to an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week, Ian Narev said it can be hard for customers with legitimate complaints to be heard by institutions, leading to an industry review of complaints processes.

There are, however, others whose complaints are unreasonable.

"It's important to understand some fundamental truths about the banking business model. By the nature of what we do – extend credit, manage investments, provide insurance – it is an unfortunate but inescapable reality of our business model that we are going to have some troubled relations with customers," Mr Narev said.

"In some cases, we have customers who feel dissatisfied because they are being unreasonable, and because they are acting improperly with the Commonwealth Bank, and because they hope they will embarrass us into settling in a way which no reasonable Australian would expect us to settle."

Mr Narev also admitted that CBA has made mistakes, but has also moved to fix them, making the argument for a royal commission "baseless".

"The fact that the position of the industry has been so strong, that we're acknowledging and fixing mistakes and that we have such strong regulators makes the analogies with other circumstances in which royal commissions have been recommended baseless," he said.

"The royal commission is bad policy: it's not the right policy for an industry with this record, with this approach, and with this regulation."

Mr Narev said a royal commission into the financial services industry will affect overseas investors' view of the Australian banking system and, in turn, "one of the great sources of strength in the Australian economy".

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