Our commitment to customers
We’re committed to doing the right thing and putting our customers first. As part of this commitment, we established the Office of the Customer Advocate (OCA) in 2016. We appointed Catherine Wolthuizen as our Customer Advocate for Retail Banking and Small Business.
Catherine and the OCA focus on advocacy and insights to deliver fair outcomes for NAB customers that align with community expectations.
Advocacy is about giving our customers a voice across the bank.
Catherine’s role is to ensure that the customer’s interests are at the centre of the choices we make – particularly when it relates to whether we ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ do something.
Catherine and the OCA work collaboratively with NAB colleagues to provide support with complex and sensitive matters, in circumstances when customers may be vulnerable, where a fair outcome may be difficult to identify or where there could be unintended customer consequences.
The team’s main focus is to support complex and sensitive matters, in circumstances when a customer might be vulnerable, or where a fair outcome may be difficult to identify.
Having this support means we’re able to resolve complex complaints or issues fairly and promptly. Catherine’s role as NAB’s Customer Advocate does not involve reviewing individual customer matters at the request of individual customers.
Advocacy also means helping us to apply fairness principles and community expectations to NAB’s decisions and actions. To help NAB achieve this, Catherine is working with us to embed a culture of fairness across the bank, influencing our strategy and operations to be more customer-centric.
Catherine and the OCA regularly conduct reviews of:
- Complaints that have been resolved by NAB or by the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA);
- NAB products and services; and
- the outcomes these provide to customers.
The insights from this work may include identifying where there may have been unintended outcomes for groups of customers due to the actions of NAB. When this occurs Catherine and the OCA will investigate and work across NAB to identify what needs to be done to put things right and how to avoid these types of issues happening again.
Catherine’s depth of experience and current roles external to NAB helps her provide an ‘outside-in' perspective to these reviews.
Customer Advocate progress so far
In 2020/2021 some of the initiatives that the OCA initiated or supported across NAB included:
- helping NAB colleagues, customers and their representatives understand the role and responsibilities in relation to Powers of Attorney (POA)
- developing clearer customer communications regarding financial hardship arrangements and for customers who are the victim of a scam
- supporting NAB colleagues to identify potential indicators of vulnerability to harm to support timely provision of additional care to those customers
- collaborating with NAB Resolve (NAB’s complaints team) on continuous improvement initiatives to make it easier for customers when something has gone wrong and for us to make it right.
In 2022 OCA will be focused on and contribute to:
- continuing its work on how NAB can reduce instances of financial abuse experienced by our customers and improve our ability to detect and respond where we suspect financial abuse may be occurring
- supporting small business customers who are experiencing financial distress and/or other factors for vulnerability
- improving NAB’s provision of accessible and inclusive services for Indigenous customers.
What Catherine brings to NAB
Since her appointment in 2016 as NAB’s Customer Advocate, Catherine’s role has been to champion and represent the voice of customers throughout the bank. She does this by advocating for the fair treatment of customers in all NAB products, services, policies and processes.
Catherine brings her extensive experience as a consumer and human rights advocate and ombudsman to this role. She was a leading consumer advocate at CHOICE and was a co-founder of Consumer Action Legal Centre. She has led international human rights NGO Fair Trials and the UK Whistleblowing charity and helped set up the UK Money and Pensions Advice Service.
Catherine was appointed as an ombudsman at the UK Financial Ombudsman Service in 2012 and led its external engagement program. Since returning to Australia in 2016, she has taken on the roles of panel member at AFCA, Chair of the Consumer Policy Research Centre, Member of the Economic Abuse Reference Group and Director with Consumer or Community Experience on the Boards of the Victorian Legal Services Regulator and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. This work (in addition to her role as NAB’s customer advocate) keeps her connected with consumers and ensures she can reflect community expectations to NAB.
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