Commonwealth Bank retail banking exec to replace Narev

The bank has promoted Matt Comyn to fill the chief position following the departure of Ian Narev amid Austrac investigations.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has announced a replacement for outgoing CEO Ian Narev, promoting retail banking services group executive Matt Comyn to fill the top spot.

According to the bank, the 42-year-old male boasts the "best mix of attributes and values" needed to lead CBA.

"Matt has gained respect across the banking sector both in Australia and globally. His track record is one of delivering very strong business performance, as well as a range of innovative, sustainable business improvements that have strengthened customer outcomes," CBA chairwoman Catherine Livingstone said in a statement on Monday.

Comyn has been with the bank since 1999, leaving briefly in 2010 to undertake a six-month stint as CEO at US financial services company Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. He was promoted to the retail banking executive position in 2012.

"It is important that we maintain the momentum underway, upgrading and strengthening our governance, accountability, and risk management, while delivering strong financial performance," the incoming CEO said.

"We are in a period of significant technology and competitive change, and I look forward to ensuring we remain at the forefront of technology, innovation, and a great customer experience."

As retail banking boss, Comyn is credited as boosting the bank's active digital users to over 6 million, as well as bringing "innovative digital tools" to customers through CBA's financial wellbeing sector.

Having previously been managing director of the bank's biggest digital business CommSec, Comyn oversaw the digital modernisation of its technology platform.

Comyn also assisted Narev when CBA faced the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics' review of the performance of Australia's banking and financial system last year.

Comyn's base salary will be AU$2.2 million per year.

Short-term variable remuneration will see an additional AU$2.2 million paid half in cash with the other half deferred for two years into equity.

Additionally, long-term variable remuneration may be "rewarded" to Comyn to the tune of AU$3.96 million if approved by the board.

Comyn will begin his new post on April 19, 2018, when Narev will depart after spending six years as CEO.

Narev's departure was announced after civil penalty proceedings were initiated by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) against CBA in August.

It was alleged by Australia's financial intelligence and regulatory agency that CBA had been involved in "serious and systemic non-compliance" with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006.

Austrac detailed 53,700 alleged breaches of the Act, which included failing to hand 53,506 threshold transaction reports (TTRs) for cash transactions over AU$10,000 to Austrac through intelligent deposit machines (IDMs) for almost three years between November 2012 and September 2015.

The bank in December admitted that disparate datasets contributed to a contravention of the Act.

"CBA admits that at various times between about 20 October 2012 and 12 October 2015, due to an error in the process of merging data from two systems, its account level automated transaction monitoring did not operate as intended in respect of 778,370 accounts," the bank wrote in its claim.

"CBA admits that this deficiency in its automated transaction monitoring over that period constituted a contravention of s82(1) of the Act."

The bank said that in September 2015, its automated process was corrected so that TTRs were generated for transactions identified by the relevant transaction code.

However, between November 2012 and September 2015, the automated process did not generate TTRs for 53,506 deposits of AU$10,000 or more through IDMs.

In its defence, CBA has asked Austrac to treat the contraventions as one course of conduct, arguing that the reports were late due to one systems-related error.

The bank faces a maximum penalty of AU$18 million for each of the contraventions if found guilty.

For the 2017 financial year, CBA reported record after-tax profit of AU$9.88 billion, an increase of 4.6 percent over the previous year.


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