Timing is right for fresh probe into financial services: NAB

National Australia Bank chief Cameron Clyne has welcomed a long-promised inquiry into the financial services sector, saying the timing was logical.

National Australia Bank chief Cameron Clyne has welcomed a long-promised inquiry into the financial services sector, saying the timing was logical.

Although embracing the review, Mr Clyne was tight-lipped about what he believed should be its terms of reference.

At a speech at a lunch in Melbourne on Thursday, Mr Clyne criticised business leaders who provided a running commentary on reform discussions with government, saying it jeopardised the changes aimed at improving the economy.

In that spirit, Mr Clyne said, he would keep to himself his thoughts about what should be part of the inquiry's terms of reference.

"I'll take the opportunity to provide input into the terms of reference, but hopefully it will be done in such a way that makes real difference," he said.

"It's obviously been 15-16 years since the Wallis inquiry, which was also 15-16 years after the Campbell inquiry, so there seems to be logic in terms of timing, if nothing else.

"A lot has changed. I think it will be a good opportunity to drive long-term reform."

Mr Clyne also said businesses were too concerned about a housing bubble developing, and about US debt ceiling negotiations.

He said it was too easy to get caught up in economic indicators and day-to-day macro talks, which he described as panics. "You can panic about inflation, unemployment, RBA minutes, building approvals, credit approvals, and next week I can start panicking about bond yields and retail sales and job ad surveys.

"The following week I'll start panicking about the Australian currency, Chinese PMI data, US non-farm payrolls. The next week I'll start panicking about the US Fed minutes and GDP figures. This creates this concept 'am I winning or losing?' almost daily. That is simply how you do not run a business."

Despite being appointed NAB's chief executive at the height of the financial crisis, Mr Clyne said he had focused more on NAB's long-term strategy for driving growth.

This focus was firmly on the bank's core markets in Australia and New Zealand and the introduction of a new information technology system to prepare for an "unstoppable wave of digitilisation".

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