National Australia Bank (NAB) today announced Professor Dimity Kingsford Smith, Professor of Law, University of NSW, as independent Customer Advocate for its wealth advice complaints process, effective immediately.
The Customer Advocate role has been established following NAB Wealth’s commitment to improve and build independence into its advice complaints process.
The Customer Advocate will have the authority to support customers through the resolution of a complaint. If there is a disagreement as to a complaint outcome, the Customer Advocate can escalate the concern to the lead independent director of the NAB Wealth Boards, who also sits on the NAB Principal Board.
NAB Chief Executive Officer Andrew Thorburn said: “The Customer Advocate is an independent voice for NAB Wealth customers.
“The Customer Advocate role has been designed to challenge us in a meaningful way, to hold us to account, and to support our customers through the resolution of complaints in our financial advice complaints process.
“NAB wants the best outcomes for our customers. We want to strengthen our business and ensure we are always open, transparent and take issues impacting customers seriously. This is a very important step in designing a robust complaints and review process so that we get this right for our customers the first time,” he said.
Prof Kingsford Smith said: “I am looking forward to a role where I am able to bring an independent voice to the fair and prompt resolution of disputes between NAB Wealth and its customers. As well as leading decision-making about specific claims, the independent Customer Advocate will establish general principles for the resolution of claims in future.
“I am encouraged by the discussions I have had with leaders at NAB that the bank is determined to do the right thing by its customers now and in the future. My primary work is as an independent university researcher, teacher and public commentator on the law and policy of Australian financial consumers. The NAB accepts that I will continue that work. I consider that is an additional guarantee of the independence of the Customer Advocate’s office and the determination of the NAB to treat its customers fairly.”
The role and scope has been verified by independent third party and specialist in governance and role independence activities Cameron Ralph.
The review led by Cameron Ralph was to ensure no conflicts of interest affected the construction and design of the role, and to ensure that the customer’s perspective is central in establishing the effectiveness and independence of the role.
About Professor Dimity Kingsford Smith
Professor Kingsford Smith is a member of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission External Advisory Panel. She was the independent chair of the Conduct Review Commission, a professional disciplinary panel in the financial services industry, from 2007-2014. She has consulted to the Canadian Investment Dealers Association and is a member of the Code Committee of the New Zealand Financial Markets Authority. Professor Kingsford Smith authored two submissions to the recent Financial System Inquiry in 2014, and has contributed to a number of past inquiries. Professor Kingsford Smith is a member of the Australian Corporate Law Teachers
Association, the Australian Society of Legal Philosophy and Julius Stone Institute: likewise of the US and Canadian Law & Society Associations. She is a frequent speaker at conferences on aspects of financial regulation, and comments in the media on regulatory issues.
Professor Dimity Kingsford Smith joined UNSW in January 2005. She was professor of law and
Director of the Centre for Law in the Digital Economy at Monash University between 2000-2004. She previously held appointments at the University of Sydney and in the UK at University
College London and Warwick University. In 1999 she was a visitor at the London School of Economics law department. Professor Kingsford Smith’s research, publications and teaching are in the areas of financial regulation and corporate governance: she has a strong record of PhD and higher degree completions in financial regulation.