08 Aug HOW MUCH IS A BANK’S REPUTATION WORTH? TRY $16 MILLION
Well, we now know how much the Commonwealth Bank’s high-profile Board thinks the Group’s reputation is worth: about $16 million.
That’s how much CEO Ian Narev and his 11 most senior executives will forego in bonuses this financial year, according to an announcement this morning from CBA Chair Catherine Livingstone.
In a highly unusual move, Livingstone told the ASX that in deciding remuneration for the year, the Board had given consideration to “risk and reputation matters” impacting CBA, referring to the bank’s current legal problems with the regulator AUSTRAC.
In reaching this conclusion, Livingstone added, “the overriding consideration of the Board was the collective accountability of senior management for the overall reputation of the Group”.
She further announced that Board fees would be cut by 20 per cent.
Whether cutting bonuses for top executives and trimming Board pay packets will be enough to start the enormous task of repairing the bank’s reputation remains to be seen.
Media scrutiny over the bank’s financial advisory services and its CommInsure business have had a huge impact on its reputation and this latest scandal over alleged money laundering will only make matters worse.
The reaction from most media commentators to the cut in bonuses has been lukewarm, to say the least.
While most described the move by the Board as “a step in the right direction” or a “useful first step”, the media are expecting more. Rightly or not, they are expecting heads to roll and the sooner, the better.
And they are not alone. While the response from our politicians to the charges has been surprisingly muted, probably because of legal constraints, this latest scandal is unlikely to help improve relations between the major banks and Canberra, which remain at an all-time low.
As for shareholders, well, that is the $16 million question.
Sure, they will obviously welcome the bank’s latest profit results but many have already made it clear they are unhappy with the way senior executives are paid.
Last year, the bank’s remuneration report received a 49 per cent NO vote, so, a second strike this year may well be on the cards, bonus or not.
For a bank that was once best known as very dull but very safe, the ride is about to get even bumpier.