What no-one had the heart to say at
Friday’s annual meeting of the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney, is that David
Murray, the $28 million man, had left the bank he ruled for 13 years in
a very weak position in the business market.

It seems while
Murray was busy bashing the unions and cutting staff numbers in the
Which New Bank revamp of retail services (home loans etc), some of the
opposition, especially the ANZ, were stealing a march in business
banking. And how do we know that? Well, his replacement, Ralph Norris
told shareholders that he was “working” to improvement business

“In business banking … our performance is still
less than satisfactory,” he said. “This is because we have not been
sufficiently responsive to the needs of our business customers.
Improving our performance in business banking is a priority, so we are
currently scoping a number of initiatives”

And who was
responsible for “our performance being less than satisfactory?” Well,
it seems from reports that no one bothered asking, which is strange.
But seeing Murray was in charge all those years, there’s only one
person who can be blamed: yep, the $28 million man. But as he was
saying goodbye to the bank at the meeting, good manners took precedence
over the blame game, which was a bit disingenuous.

Looking at
the ANZ results last week with more employment, more revenues and a
solid business banking operation, it’s easy to work out which bank
hasn’t got its approach to business right. And that’s a bit of an
indictment of the CBA board, especially under former chairman John
Ralph, which fully supported Murray’s union and employee bashing, not
to mention dispensing with probable rivals over the years.