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CBA CEO admits fresh ‘inexcusable failure’

More financial planning woes for Australia's biggest bank.

Senior Digital Journalist, Your Money

Commonwealth Bank of Australia chief exe­cutive Matt Comyn has admitted to making a number of “inexplicable” mistakes following weaker than expected profit results Wednesday.

Comyn spoke to Your Money’s host of TICKY, Ticky Fullerton, hours after the CBA’s announcement – the first of the big four banks to formally release its half-yearly results in the wake of the financial services royal commission final report Monday.

In particular, Comyn addressed the fees for no service scandal – an ongoing investigation into the CBA and other lenders charging customers for advice they weren’t getting.

The CEO admitted to having behaved inexcusably by not properly following up in response to the allegations laid out during the commission.

That saw the corporate regulator ASIC banning the CBA’s Commonwealth Financial Planning (CFP) business from continuing to charge fees just hours before the final report was delivered Monday –  accusing the bank of not sufficiently acting on the situation as it was told to 12 months ago.

CFP is the one financial advice subsidiary the bank intends to keep following the sell-off of its wealth management arm Colonial First State.

“Why did you fail to deliver, after everything?” Your Money’s Ticky Fullerton asked during the interview.

“It’s an unacceptable failure Ticky. There’s no better explanation than that. We’ve made a number of improvements to our advice business. We’ve made some clear commitments to ourselves and to the regulator,” said Comyn.

“We wrote to the regulator telling them that we hadn’t, which I accept is an inexplicable failure… We’re going to look very hard at how this happened. And we expect there’ll be consequences that flow from that.”

Comyn said the bank had fallen short on “controls” that should normally have protected customers from being ripped off. “There’s no escaping that it’s unacceptable.”

Whatever the “consequences” are, it’s unlikely to be at the expense of Comyn’s career, as it very well could be for NAB’s CEO Andrew Thorburn.

Thorburn admitted Tuesday he might be out of a job as early as this week after he was singled out in the Hayne report.

However, Comyn firmly avoided any speculation on whether his own resignation was on the cards – should the report have similarly highlighted his own failings.

“I wouldn’t like to speculate and certainly I wouldn’t like to provide any commentary on one of my competitors,” Comyn told TICKY.

Speaking generally on the outcome of the royal commission, Comyn said the bank is committed to implementing the recommendations and getting to the “root cause of the issues.”

That’s an outcome shareholders, if not customers, seem positive about. Stock prices of the major banks rallied Tuesday following the release of what some analysts are calling a winning final report for the banks.

Watch the full interview with Matt Comyn in the video above.

Read more: NAB CEO cancels holiday to defend job
More: CBA unveils latest profit figures as royal commission wraps up
More: Final report falls short on community expectations