National Australia Bank CEO, chair resign after scathing inquiry

NAB interim CEO Phil Chronican the right man for the job, investors say

NAB interim CEO Phil Chronican the right man for the job, investors say

NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn and chairman Ken Henry are both stepping down after they were savaged in a royal commission report.

"More particularly, I was not persuaded that the NAB is willing to accept the necessary responsibility for deciding, for itself, what is the right thing to do, then having its staff act accordingly".

"I thought it telling that Dr Henry seemed unwilling to accept any criticism of how the board had dealt with some issues", he observed.

Thorburn and Henry join the CEO and chairwoman of the country's biggest financial planner, AMP Ltd, who quit before the commission ended over criticism of the firm's handling of charging customers fees without providing a service. Overall, my fear - that there may be a wide gap between the public face NAB seeks to show and what it does in practice - remains.

The top bosses of National Australia Bank - the parent company of the Bank of New Zealand - have resigned and say they are "deeply sorry" for failings by the bank.

Former ANZ executive Philip Chronican, now a board director at NAB, will take on the poisoned chalice of acting CEO from March 1, while an global search for a permanent replacement is conducted.

Philip Chronican, a NAB director with extensive banking experience will act as CEO from March 1 until a replacement is found.

Former NSW premier Mike Baird, a senior NAB executive, is seen as a leading internal candidate to succeed Mr Thorburn, although there may be pressure on the bank to bring in an external CEO.

Thorburn said he had been speaking with Henry this week, and he acknowledged the bank had "sustained damage" as a result of the royal commission's final report, which singled out both he and Henry for stinging criticism.

" I thought it telling that in the very week that NAB's CEO and chair were to give evidence before the commission, one of its staff should be emailing bankers urging them to sell at least five mortgages each before Christmas".

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"He's been in the industry for decades and understands the importance of aligning the customers' interests with the bank's".

National Australia Bank CEO Andrew Thorburn has had a rough week.

Thornburn appeared to be fighting for his job early this week, cancelling leave, but he admitted on Tuesday that he could not guarantee he would still have his position on Friday.

Dr Henry said on Thursday that he had "relived that performance many times", he was "quite upset" about it, but he believed this was not the main reason for commissioner Kenneth Hayne's remarks.

"The timing of my departure will minimise disruption for customers, employees and shareholders".

"I recognise the important responsibility in stepping into this role at a hard time for NAB", he said.

Henry said he was "enormously proud of what the bank has achieved" but "equally disappointed" by instances in which it had failed customers. "Andrew and I are deeply sorry for this", he said. "My decision is not made in reaction to any specific event, but more broadly looking at the bank's needs in coming months and years". It will also establish a board committee for customer outcomes.

Peter Brandson, of the campaign group Bank Reform Now, welcomed the resignations but said if banks were serious about accountability they had to provide remediation for customers who had been victims of misconduct.

'We are taking steps to earn your trust through action and now we will need to work through this report and implement the recommendations, ' he said.

Since replacing Cameron Clyne as chief executive, Mr Thorburn had overseen the divestment of the bank's unprofitable Clydesdale Bank and 80 per cent of its MLC wealth management business, and embarked upon a $1.5 billion restructure that will trim 4000 jobs over three years.

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