'You Have Failed': Shareholders In Record-Breaking Revolt Against NAB
More than 80 percent of National Australia Bank shareholders have voted against the bank's overhauled executive pay structure.
The bank's annual general meeting saw fiery exchanges as angry stakeholders grilled chairman Dr Ken Henry for more than an hour, slamming the board for failing its customers.
"You are the unacceptable face of capitalism," one shareholder who has been a customer for 48-years said.
"You have failed".
The controversial reforms cut chief executive Andrew Thorburn's total pay by 32 percent but still left him with $4.375 million.
On Wednesday, Henry acknowledged that "the quantum of remuneration" was a factor in the shareholders' overwhelming first strike revolt.
He admitted the way the bank paid its executives was wrong, saying their strategy "may have encouraged short-term thinking and value-destroying behaviours."
"The board is hearing loud and clear that our new scheme is not right. We tried, but we got it wrong," he told shareholders in Melbourne.
"We are listening to you. We will try again."
Taxi Driver John, who was at the meeting, also questioned the bank's generous executive remuneration scheme.
"A man that earns $1000 an hour doesn't need a bonus."
Henry said NAB had decided to overhaul its pay structure before the royal commission heard widespread instances of wrongdoing from NAB and its peers.
In August, the Banking Royal Commission recommended charges against the Commonwealth and National Australia Bank over how they treated superannuation customers.
The commission heard NAB's superannuation trustees MLC and NULIS, as well as AMP, charged customers fees despite providing no services; some customers were provided with terrible financial advice which cost some of them up to half a million dollars; and multiple institutions failed to look after customers, forged signatures, and failed to take action against advisors who provided bad information.
Henry said he had been "appalled" by some of the wrongdoing exposed at the royal commission, and Thorburn admitted banks had committed "terrible" misconduct.
"I know you have been disappointed and upset by issues of the past year," Thorburn told shareholders.
"We have been too - we are determined to get better."
But one attendee, who said he was a victim of bad banking practices, challenged NAB executives to personally meet with aggrieved customers.
"How much longer must NAB's victims wait until you compensate them," he said.
NAB, like rival Westpac, will now be at risk of a second strike and a board spill next year.
Thorburn, who goes on leave after the AGM, took a two million dollar pay cut after a year in.
His pay cut was the largest among the big four bank CEOs in both percentage and absolute terms, but NAB's revolt still overshadowed Westpac's 64 per cent.
Thorburn will return in February to lead NAB's response to the royal commission's final report, before taking long service leave.
"We have a clear plan for NAB and remain confident in our future under the leadership of CEO Andrew Thorburn and an executive team of truly global quality," Henry said.
"We are now 12 months into a three-year strategy to transform the bank and we look forward to Andrew returning from leave rested and recharged to see through the transformation - and beyond."
NAB's shares have fallen 22 percent this calendar year and are at a six-year low.
With AAP. Featured Image: AAP/10 News First