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Lessons to be learned by NAB

28 Feb 2019

Lessons to be learned by NAB Image

By Rhonda Dredge

The impact of the Royal Commission into banking is beginning to filter down to street level as officers at the NAB are briefed on issues raised about customer hardship, loan defaults and farm debt mediation.

The officers appeared to be riveted by the briefing at NAB’s giant co-working space in Docklands on February 19.

At one stage a flow chart appeared on a large screen under the heading Optimising Data Governance.

About 100 of the bank’s credit team attended the briefing but it may take a long time to win trust from customers

“There are lessons to be learned from the Royal Commission,” said one attendee, a credit officer from Scotland who declined to elaborate.

Basically, the lessons were up there in brilliant lights for all to see: when a customer gets old, skips a loan repayment or has a slow year on the farm, the bank has taken advantage rather than offered a helping hand.

Now those policies are under review at NAB.

Customers are cynical about bank culture and a casual visit to the “Village” at 700 Bourke St does little to suggest that it is becoming more helpful.

The foyer is vast and is full of chances to connect via ATMs, lectures, meetings, consultations, interviews and a cafe, yet there is no-one to really talk to.

A customer is made to feel puny here. If you see someone you know in the distance it’s easier to message them on a phone than call out or wave because it is so busy and noisy.

Opened by NAB as a place it could extend to its business partners for free meetings, the Village is seen by those who work in the vicinity as part of the system of hot desking aimed at cutting costs.

Desks are expensive in Docklands. If a corporate team has 10 people and eight desks, employees are rotated and encouraged to work from home. When corporations expand they sublet spaces from other companies.

Some readers love the tales of derring-do in the commercial property media, the gossip that KPMG is paying $10 million a year for rent and the financials that go into clinching development sites.

When Docklands News visited the Village, the vast space was alive with the chatter of smartly-dressed corporates conducting meetings. A woman at one table was being interviewed for a job. “It’s lonely at the top,” she said.

Two other women were taking notes. The words “leadership team” and “human resources” drifted across the co-working space.

A group of six at another nearby table was negotiating a sub-lease. “We can create two more desks,” said one property guy, trying to clinch the deal.

At a smaller table one suit was advising another that there would be two interviews and a pre-selection process.

This is the place to be if you want to get ahead.

“What do you love about the HR role?” the interviewers asked their candidate. There was not a touch of irony in their voices. People have been schooled in corporate-speak.

What if the woman, on looking around at the crowded workplace, said that she liked people and wanted to help them get the best conditions of employment? Would she get the job?

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