Ken Henry appoints himself ‘face of the crash’

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.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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    • But wait – it gets better: “It is a failure of both design and implementation”…

      I mean – “not only we f*cked it up by design, but we didn’t even keep to the designed f*ckup, so we f*cked it up differently in implementation” … I mean – that right there is a special kind of special…

      • Par for the course. Have a compliance system to pretend you care about quality and governance. Flagrantly disregard this compliance for “efficiency”. When you get audited or investigated, feign some kind of shock and blame the staff for not adhering to the system. Pretend you care and “beef” up compliance. State too much “redtape”, remove compliance. Rinse and repeat.

  1. “The situation at NAB is a cluster fiasco……..” lololol. We all know it wasn’t fiasco he was thinking!

  2. Btw, Henry won’t resign; where else will he earn that sort of money. Guy’s a complete failure. So much for alleged Elites!

  3. What amazes me is that despite these huge salaries and bonuses, how cheaply Henry and Thornton could be corrupted. Throw in a Thermomix or a First Class upgrade and they’ll give you favours like a cheap loan, according to the AFR.

    “Dr Henry and his wife accepted a first-class trip to the US…according to documents released by the Hayne royal commission.

    A spokesman for NAB said the bank acted on whistleblower information. “We continue to co-operate fully with police, who have asked us to provide no further comment on the alleged fraud and the investigation” the spokesman said.”

    • Of course he can’t… By merit alone he’s in that position and by Cthulhu’s tentacled beard why should he answer to you, peasants! He’s there, he’s obviously earned it by the sweat of his brow… so why can’t you get it through that thick skull of yours that he doesn’t have to answer none of your rubbish, common questions – he already operates in a much higher esoteric plane than you, you….. mundanes!

  4. Who does he think he is lecturing the royal commission about capitalism and addressing Hayne directly on questions they should look at? His performance was sickening and am not sure why it was tolerated. Orr was way to soft on him. His stupid little pompous oversimplified lecture on how serving customers is an end in itself at NAB and then refusing to answer why the board allowed remediation for *customers* to take 3 years. Just a neoliberal ideologue who cut his teeth in Keating’s office

    • He is Ken Henry – the Grrrrrreat! and you, peasant, are not worthy of even looking at him, let alone questioning his methods.

      Be gone, lest he dispatches the hounds on your naked ass…

    • When he was in the treasury I thought he was making good points in his white paper. Now, it’s a money and power thing, and what you’ve said is spot on. He’s now a nasty get out of my way type. He’d fit in well any any pollie party.

  5. I saw the footage of him at the RC, and never in my life have I seen someone behave in such a manner. It was like he was deliberately putting on a special performance to make the point that he’s the most arrogant and obnoxious and self-entitled cnut in the country and the small people (aka his customers) should just fcuk off and leave him alone to enjoy his bonuses.

    • That’s just your opinion, the AFR finds him “impressively self-deprecating”:
      It was exactly the performance he probably should have provided in the royal commission – a fact Henry himself joked about in an impressively self-deprecating way.
      “My own performance I was described as being pompous. Ha!” exclaimed Henry about his time in front of Orr.
      “I said to my wife: ‘You saw it all, do you think I was being pompous?’
      “She said ‘No. But you certainly can be.'”
      Put him on your List.

      • Kenny is just like that. He should’ve had the smarts to turn that sh1t down for the RC, but he didn’t. He is an idiot for not bringing his faux humility on the day.

      • No surprises there. The worthless sycophants at the AFR are good for nothing but smoking the poles of clowns like Henry, and that’s what they do.

        Thank you for the suggestion re my list. I concur. It’s getting so long though that I may have to engage some consultants to help me out when the day comes.

    • Hayne should have held him in contempt. over theatrical little performance clearly Henry’s way of saying “I am above the law”

      • Having a Royal commission is the law/governments way of admitting he is right.

        Edit: as opposed to, you know, an actual criminal case against anyone about any of this.

  6. proofreadersMEMBER

    “And I’m very, very pleased that we did – it has been tough for us and tough for the whole industry.”

    Taking credit for the RC and then treating it with contempt when in the box? Clueless?

  7. I think the correct technical term for that is “chutzpah” (the usual example is of the bloke who kills both his parents then asks for leniency in sentencing because he is an orphan).

  8. Isn’t Ken the same guy who informed the Howard govt and thus the nation that the Chinese boom would last 50 years?

    This guy has probably been the most subtle supervillain in Australian history.

    • The Traveling Wilbur

      China will have a 50 year boom. Shame Ken was 94% wrong about Australia’s part in that.

  9. Kommo Ken the K**t from Kyogle and Kanberra. No polishing this turd with defensive comments in Dec 2018 HnH?