Customer disputes and the principles of fairness

Pic: Colin Neave (left) and Alexis George

ANZ is committed to treating our customers fairly. I know that’s a work in progress in some cases and there have been instances where we’ve fallen short. And sometimes we do have disagreements. But even when this happens, it’s important our customers are still treated fairly and transparently.


That’s why we are launching our new Dispute Resolution Principles.


“It’s important for us to have a public document to keep us honest which we can check ourselves against.”


I recently sat down with Colin Neave, ANZ’S Customer Fairness Advisor and the author of these principles, to discuss how they will help the bank - and our external legal agencies - engage with our customers in tough times.

When reading through the principles, I personally was very pleased to find the entire document uses plain English - no legal jargon in sight. This is very important because quite often our customers are self-represented in legal settings.


Colin agreed it’s important to have an easy-to-read, simply expressed set of principles that fit onto one A4 sheet of paper.


“It contains general principles like listening intently to what the customer says, which fits nicely with our engagement with customers - the principle that we have more generally,” he says.


Another important principle is when the bank comes across a dispute that could involve other customers, we will follow through and find out if there are other things we need to be doing in order to fix a more general problem.


The principles were created with input from customers but Colin says ongoing feedback is required to ensure they remain relevant. I also think it’s important for us to have a public document to keep us honest, something tangible against which we can check ourselves.


Most importantly to me, the principles have also been circulated to our external legal firm partners to be shared with their teams. Often, these teams are acting on behalf of the bank and we don't always get to see what happens in their arenas so the principles create a benchmark for their behaviour too.


Although Colin and I agree we both hope disputes don't get to the point of litigation, the principles will help the bank manage legal proceedings in an appropriate way.


Some might say these principles simply state the obvious and it’s true there’s nothing complicated in them. But they are worth laying out explicitly – that will help us all and most importantly our customers.


Alexis George is Deputy CEO and Group Executive – Wealth at ANZ


Click HERE to read through the principles in more detail.