CBA defends turning to India for new staff

The Commonwealth Bank has defended hiring staff in India for digital and compliance jobs, saying it can't find the skills it needs in Australia.

At the bank's annual general meeting, held via video link on Wednesday, chair Catherine Livingstone faced questions from several shareholders about the bank's Indian subsidiary.

She said the bank has recruited 3000 staff in Australia in the last couple of months and is trying to fill thousands more jobs, but it can't find enough digital workers onshore.

"We're definitely looking to recruit people in Australia but we can't get all of the skills that we need," Ms Livingstone told investors.

"This is not about moving jobs, this is about adding capability to the organisation."

Ms Livingstone said the bank is also retraining some workers in Australia whose jobs are no longer needed.

In her speech to the AGM, Ms Livingstone said CBA had implemented widespread changes in its culture, three years after giving an enforceable undertaking to regulator APRA.

"We recognise that sustaining the hard-fought gains of the past three years will require a permanent commitment by the bank at all levels," she said.

But the insistence on cultural change comes just after allegations the bank knowingly underpaid its own staff more than $16 million, while telling them they would be better off under its pay deals.

Ms Livingstone told investors that legal issues the bank is currently facing stem from past problems, which should not be seen as a reflection of the way the bank now operates.

She was re-elected to her position as chair with a vote of more than 98 per cent in favour.

Meanwhile, chief executive Matt Comyn said government stimulus during lockdowns has been working and the business sector is ready to take advantage of new opportunities.

He said almost all CBA borrowers who took a loan holiday due to COVID-19 have restarted their repayments.

About 160,000 mortgage holders and about 90,000 business loan holders deferred their loans during the pandemic, while the bank extended its moratorium on foreclosures until February 2022.

As for the real estate boom, Mr Comyn also said the bank was keeping a close eye on the market.

"Housing activity is still strong. We are continuing to monitor this closely and adjust our lending settings appropriately," he said.

Last week the banking regulator APRA told lenders to increase their home loan serviceability interest rate buffers, in a bid to rein in higher risk lending.

Ms Livingstone said the bank is consulting its staff on COVID-19 vaccination requirements, but noted employees are not currently required to return to the office.

Other major Australian companies, including BHP and Telstra, have already mandated vaccinations for staff.

CBA reported cash profit of $8.65 billion for the year to June 30, up almost 20 per cent on the previous year, and a statutory bottom-line result of $8.84 billion.

It was also boosted by a $554 million drop in its provisions for impaired loans to reflect an improvement in economic conditions and outlook.

At the start of October, the bank concluded a $6 billion share buyback.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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