Early in the Banking Royal Commission, two dramatic events unfolded, AMP got caught red handed charging service fees for no-service wealth products, and evidence unfolded that CommBank was charging dead people for financial products. Both inexcusable acts need to question the very core of both organisation’s so-called mission.
In our twenty seventh year of economic growth, Australian business has become complacent in its stewardship and execution and many companies appear to have forgotten why they exist. Both AMP and CommBank have not lived up to their customer promise which is at the core of their mission statements. The fact CommBank have been caught charging dead customers for products reminds me of that film, the Sixth Sense, but in this case, it’s not ‘I see dead people’, it’s “I sell to dead people”. Seriously, this nonchalant stewardship commands a review of directorship in this nation. Directors have a role of stewardship to best serve their stakeholders. Until NEDs understand that this means to serve the customers, deliver healthy cultures for employees, enable communities to thrive and be responsible in environmental resilience and provide investor returns, then more #corpgov mess will continue.
The Banking Royal Commission still has plenty left in it so watch this space. I wonder if AMP have simply replaced the Chair with a Non-Executive incumbent because they don’t know which other powerhouse Non-Executives from the other banks will come out ‘scrutiny free’ once Hayne has finished his inquisition.
Yesterday, AMP had a Board meeting, which was to be the Chair of the Board, Catherine Brenner’s last, as the chief steward of the financial services giant. Shall we ask questions why she has gone and why they got it so wrong? Could it be that decades of investment banking trains your decision making to be that of pure balance sheet management with a razor-sharp focus on shareholder returns? Joe Easton of the AFR points out that during this tenure, the wealth management giant has slipped from $14.9Bn to $11.7Bn in value, this during a time when Australia’s wealth has continued to excel.
While @AMP_AU chair Catherine Brenner resigns after scandals uncovered by banking commission, this is only scraping the surface. Many Australian Non-Executives do NOT understand the New Economy. Most Non-Executive Directors still have a laser eye towards shareholders, yet the New Economy demands a #WholeOfStakeholder approach. While many who know me well call me Waz, I’ve also been banging on about the #WoS approach for many moons. The #WoS corporate governance framework states a Board has to review metrics of CEO performance to achieve happy customers, well-being of employees, thriving communities & environmental resilience.
It is really simple to foster a “Double Dividend” approach to #corpgov for @ASX obviously shareholder returns is one, Boards need to be clear on their stewardship of #SocialDividend and until they get this right, more board spills will occur.
In AMP 2017 Annual Report, this is the highlighted summary of the Chair of the Board’s statement,
We are pleased to have delivered a total 2017 dividend of 29 cents per share for shareholders, with $837 million having been returned to shareholders in the form of dividends and dividend reinvestment plan (DRP) shares for the year.
Many would say, what’s wrong with that? Well, this is exactly what is wrong with the financial services industry. The recipient of these financial services is, most importantly, the customer, and so to better serve the customer, we need to have them front and centre at the Board level, to the Executive right through to the call centre and operations.
The vernacular needs to change, the stewardship needs to change, the eye on the prize in too many cases, is the trophy of shareholder returns. And, until we can realise that we need to reverse engineer our governance models, we’ll continue to go backwards. It is time we adopt a #WoS approach to question our executives, the CEO must be in tune with his/her stakeholders and so what metrics we apply needs to change. The metrics of the boardroom now requires a new economy speak, Directors need to apply new metrics and alter their language, from CLV, @CultureAmp or Gallup metrics, CO2e and climate risk disclosure, cyber risk disclosure, Blockchain governance, social impact, we need to better understand the economics of inclusion, too many boards are lacking cognitive diversity.
Boardrooms in Australia have progressed like a tortoise, we need more cheetahs, the agile and fastest member of the jungle, and more meerkats, the inquisitive sticky beaks peeking their heads above to see (disruption) what is coming. Gender is the first step, now it is time for multidisciplinary and intergenerational diversity to better unlock the blind spots in the boardroom. Millennials are your new customer so how does a baby boomer or Gen-X understand them if they are not in the room? How do we understand the disruption of our industries if the early adopters and users are not in the room? How do we address the risks when we cannot be what we cannot see?
What are your thoughts on how Australia needs to improve our boardrooms to regain trust and steer forward? How do Australian boards take a long term view to deeply invest in innovation?