What a tragic figure is Ken Henry today. The AFR sums up the disgust:
Governance expert Dean Paatsch of Ownership Matters was scathing of the bank saying it was not just the structure of the proposal but also the board’s decision to award bonuses to all executives.
“The situation at NAB is a cluster fiasco. It is a failure of both design and implementation,” Mr Paatsch said.
Louise Davidson, chief executive of the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, which provides proxy advice to 33 Australian funds with more than $647 billion, was equally critical of the bank.
“Reducing short-term bonuses, rather than zeroing them, was a hollow gesture and failed to meet investor and community expectations about accountability,” Ms Davidson said.
It goes far beyond remuneration. Henry is claiming responsibility for the Hayne RC:
Henry said that he and Thorburn lobbied the other banks towards the end of 2017 to support the idea of a royal commission, saying he thought it was time for a forum where customer grievances could be aired.
“During the course of 2017 Andrew and I came to the view that a royal commission was appropriate.
“It has been suggested that Andrew and I convinced the other three big banks that we did indeed have to have a royal commission
“I don’t normally comment on press speculation but I’ll tell you here today that we did.
“And I’m very, very pleased that we did – it has been tough for us and tough for the whole industry.”
Good for the country perhaps but hardly for NAB shareholders. If Henry was so keen on the RC, why was he still selling mortgage in gymnasiums beforehand? Why wasn’t NAB far out in front in terms of ethical practice? Not much aforethought there. More at Banking Day:
Shareholders applauded most speakers prepared to censure directors and senior executives for the scandals that had mangled the bank’s reputation at the hearings of the Hayne Royal Commission.
“You have failed,” was the howl from former federal Labor senator and longstanding NAB shareholder, Chris Schacht.
“You have destroyed our value.
“You are the unacceptable face of capitalism.”
Despite sustained calls from numerous shareholders to reconfigure the board and management of the bank, Henry conceded little ground to the disillusioned retail investors in attendance.
Instead, he promised only more of the same whenever shareholders pressed him about the need for personnel changes at the top of the bank.
In his formal address to the meeting, Henry revealed that Thorburn would be retained as chief executive at least until the end of 2020 when the group’s strategic transformation program is to be completed.
That is, after he has an extended holiday during the most important period of scandal the bank has ever faced.
Honestly, the best thing that could happen to the bank today is to cut the dead wood, via Terry McCrann:
Sorry Ken, but you have to go.
Arguably you should have announced your resignation on Wednesday.
That would have been the most appropriate time to have done so — and it would have been in the even more appropriate place: directly to shareholders, at, to stress, their AGM.
The 88.4 per cent vote against the NAB remuneration report is effectively a vote of “no confidence” in the board and very specifically the chairman.
It went well beyond the ritualistic and ultimately pointless “virtue signalling” that most of these votes really are.
It ranks as easily the greatest vote of “no confidence” in a board and in a chairman that I have seen in more than 40 years of business commentating.
Quite right. If not, NAB shareholders will be stuck with the face of the coming crash: engulfed by scandal, compromised by policy linkages, brimming with failing entitlement.