Bendigo Bank CEO apologizes for ‘unacceptable’ debt collection practices

The committee did not apply its other sanction options, including forcing staff training or referring the matter to ASIC, but Ms Davis said “the evidence will be in the pudding” as to whether the bank raise his game.

Bendigo Bank has identified 450 affected customers and set aside $1 million in reparations to compensate customers for any distress caused. The bank has also improved call recording systems, complaint management, training and processes related to debt collection.

Bendigo Bank chief executive Marnie Baker apologized to customers and said the bank’s actions were “not acceptable”.

“We have failed to meet our own expectations and those of our customers and the community,” Ms Baker said. “These actions do not reflect who we are and what we stand for.”

Ms Baker said this team was under-resourced and acknowledged the bank lacked oversight from the Great Southern team.

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“Because of this, we made mistakes in how we communicated and responded to some of these customers,” she said. “We are confident that the corrective actions we have taken and the ongoing remediation program, together with the BCCC report, close the deal.”

Financial Counseling Australia spokesman Peter Gartlan said BCCC’s actions would have “serious reputational implications for the bank” and send a clear message to the industry about compliance risks.

“It will have ripple effects across the entire banking industry, make no mistake about it,” he said.

Mr Gartlan said he supported calls for the BCCC to have the power to impose financial penalties because the cost of aggressive debt collection was so high for consumers.

“The stress this places on customers cannot be underestimated,” he said. “The impact on customers can be devastating.”

Bendigo Bank’s share price ended the session down 2.6% at $6.04 against a broader market decline of 2.3%.

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