Complacent From Top Down: Commonwealth Bank Damned by Regulator

(Bloomberg) -- A damning report into Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s management, oversight and accountability was released Tuesday by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

These are some of the findings:

  • “A widespread sense of complacency has run through CBA, from the top down”
  • “Senior leadership was slow to recognize, and address, emerging threats to CBA’s reputation. The consequences of this slowness were not grasped"
  • “CBA’s continued financial success dulled the senses of the institution”
  • “CBA was desensitized to failings with customers”
  • “CBA became insular. It did not reflect on and learn from experiences and mistakes (its own and others’), including at Board and senior leadership levels”
  • “CBA turned a tin ear to external voices and community expectations about fair treatment”
  • “A slow, legalistic and reactive, at times dismissive, culture also characterized many of CBA’s dealings with regulators”
  • “Complacency and reactivity led to a sense of ‘chronic ease’ in CBA”
  • “Delays in (or premature closing of) risk and audit issues and the late delivery of projects were readily tolerated”
  • “A lack of intellectual curiosity and critical thinking about the ‘bigger picture’ and the full depth of risk issues inevitably limited CBA’s ability to learn, anticipate and adapt”
  • “A lack of accountability has been a characteristic of CBA for some time and has been a significant driver of recent missteps”
  • “Good intent has been too readily used to excuse poor risk outcomes”
  • “The Board provided inadequate oversight and challenge of remuneration outcomes”
  • “CBA has fostered an unsatisfactory environment that has tolerated inadequate and tardy resolution of issues, and inconsistent execution of risk and compliance projects”
  • “There was insufficient rigor and urgency by the Board and its Committees around holding management to account”
  • “Complacency has manifested itself through repeated behaviors around avoidance of ownership of outcomes in favor of following a process”
  • “Overly complex and bureaucratic decision-making processes”
  • “Immature and under-resourced compliance function”

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