Commonwealth Bank apologises for staff manipulation of children’s accounts

Bank’s employees reactivated dormant accounts with loose change to boost their bonuses and hit performance goals

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 May, 2018, 5:05pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 May, 2018, 8:53pm

Commonwealth Bank has apologised for the widespread manipulation of Dollamites accounts by its retail staff in an effort to inflate their bonuses and hit performance targets.

The practice, revealed by Fairfax Media on Saturday, involved CBA’s Youthsaver accounts, commonly known as Dollarmites, which are created by school-age children and their families.

Staff used loose change – either their own money or the bank’s money – to activate dormant Youthsaver accounts that had been created by customers who later failed to make a deposit.

By “activating” the accounts, staff could count them towards sales or bonus targets.

Commonwealth Bank released a statement on Saturday confirming it had taken action to stamp out the practice in 2013.

The bank’s new chief executive, Matt Comyn, said it did not financially harm any customer. But he conceded it was a breach of their trust.

“For that I’m deeply sorry,” Comyn said. “As CBA’s new chief executive, my number one priority is to expedite changes that will prevent any behaviour that undermines our customers’ trust in us – and to remove any CBA employee who knowingly does the wrong thing.”

The amounts involved in the scam were relatively small. Staff typically only used about 10 cents to activate the accounts. The bonuses they received amounted to about A$2 (US$1.50) per year, according to the bank.

The revelations are another blow for CBA and Comyn, who was appointed chief executive last month.

CBA has faced a torrid time over revelations aired by the royal commission, the anti-money-laundering agency, Austrac, and the corporate regulator, ASIC.

But Comyn said such behaviour was no longer acceptable at the bank.

“There is now a line in the sand and we have zero tolerance for behaviour such as this, irrespective of whether there is customer harm,” he said.