11 Jul 2016

NAB appoints independent customer advocate

National Australia Bank (NAB) today announced it has appointed Catherine Wolthuizen as independent customer advocate to support its retail and small business customers in resolving serious complaints.

The Customer Advocate-Banking role has been established as part of NAB’s commitment to the Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) industry initiatives to make banking easier and more transparent for our customers and to strengthen and build independence into our complaints process.

NAB Chief Executive Officer Andrew Thorburn said: “We are committed to making it easier for our customers to do business with us. We want to give them confidence that when we get it wrong, we will do the right thing, and resolve and remediate their issues quickly.

“The role will also give our retail and small business customers an independent and stronger voice. It will support them through the resolution of complaints, which can be a difficult time for some customers.

“The Customer Advocate will also hold us to account and play a part in ensuring our complaints process is robust, transparent and efficient. This will help us to get it right the first time for our customers and give them a greater experience.

“Catherine’s extensive consumer advocacy skills and experience in the financial sector makes her a great candidate to take on this role. We look forward to her contribution”.

The role and scope has been verified by an independent third party and specialist in governance and independence activities, the Ethics Centre, to ensure there are no conflicts of interest and from a customer’s perspective that the role will be effective and independent.

The Office of the Customer Advocate will report to the Group Executive, Governance and Reputation and NAB’s Executive Leadership team and will commence operation in August 2016.

NAB Wealth also has an independent customer advocate for its wealth advice complaints process, which was put in place in May 2015.

NAB’s customer service teams remain a customer’s first point of contact for raising complaints or providing feedback.

About Catherine Wolthuizen

Catherine Wolthuizen has over 15 years’ experience representing the interests of consumers, in Australia and overseas. She is a previous chair of the Consumers’ Federation of Australia, the national representative body for consumer organisations, and a former board member of the Insurance Ombudsman Service.

From 2001-2005, she was a member of a number of consumer advisory panels, advising authorities including the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and  Consumer Affairs Victoria.  She led financial services policy for consumer organisation Choice between 2001-2005.

Ms Wolthuizen is a former chief executive of charities Public Concern at Work, Fair Trials International and the Consumer Law Centre Victoria. In 2012, Ms Wolthuizen was appointed an Ombudsman to the UK Financial Ombudsman Service, before becoming Head of Market Affairs. She is a previous member of the independent UK consumer advisory panel to the Legal Services Board, and helped create the Financial Conduct Authority’s Money Advice Service to increase financial capability amongst British consumers.

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