In its Net Trust Score survey of the major banks, NAB came well behind the others, with its level of trust recorded by consumers falling from 18.5 per cent to just 11.5 per cent, while distrust in the bank soared from 36.9 per cent in January to 53.7 per cent in February.
“This is the highest level of distrust we have ever seen for a bank brand in Australia,” said Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine.
That pushed NAB’s overall net trust score to -42.2 per cent. The other three major banks all recorded net trust scores in the -20 per cent region.
Ms Levine attributed the result to the final report of the banking royal commission, which singled out NAB for particular rebuke over its culture and actions. That led to the resignations of both the bank’s chairman, Ken Henry, and CEO Andrew Thorburn.
The poll was conducted on 9 and 10 February 2019 — almost a week after the royal commission’s final report, containing 76 recommendations, was handed down on 4 February.
“This is a startling result for one of Australia’s pre-eminent brands,” Ms Levine said.
“This low level of trust sets a new benchmark for Australia’s banks. The real question is what happens next.”
Australians, and the royal commission, have expressed anger and frustration at the banking sector, and Ms Levine said that it is now time for banks to “rebuild that trust”.
“Australia deserves a strong and trusted banking system,” she said.
“Company directors of these banks are facing the biggest challenge of their careers — to reverse the soaring levels of distrust in their brands. These directors on the boards of banks need truly independent reporting over time of their brand’s trust — and more critically, their distrust.
“Rather than taking solace in the relatively strong levels of satisfaction that the banks still enjoy among their main customers, company directors need to explore the dangerous underbelly of distrust.”
The survey echoes another ranking of bank satisfaction revealed in December — before the banking royal commission’s findings were handed down — which ranked NAB last out of 20 major banks operating on our shores.
In its first-quarter trading update for 2019, in which the bank posted an unaudited statutory net profit of $1.7 billion, NAB’s CFO, Gary Lennon, said that the final report from the banking royal commission “is comprehensive and will bring the necessary change for our bank and industry to be better”.
“We are using it to create greater urgency and intensity as we build a culture that puts customers first always,” he said.
“We are confident we have the right strategy to deliver sustainably better customer outcomes through being simpler and easier to bank with, and to earn the trust of the community.”