“Our commitment is to continue to do what is needed to improve our business and improve the outcomes for our customers,” said NAB chief Andrew Thorburn.

It sounds like a sincere response to the revelations of NAB’s shortcomings revealed by Kenneth Hayne’s royal commission. But the statement is three years old, and was made by Thorburn to the Senate economics committee as he apologised for “poor advice”. At that point, he was already nine months into the CEO role.

Not that that was the last apology – or commitment – from Thorburn. “Our commitment is that here at NAB, we’ll always make it right,” he said in full-page ads in the News Corp papers back in May. That was after the royal commission had started to put the heat on NAB.

By last week not much had changed. Though Thorburn’s delivery method had. “I’m sorry. My commitment is that we will learn and get better, so we can once again be a bank you respect and trust,” he posted on Twitter, as, in the royal commission, his own staff stonewalled and obfuscated.

At this point, four years and at least three apologies and new commitments into his job, you might say Thorburn is bordering on being over-committed.


At what point is it too late for a CEO to keep apologising and promising his company will do better?

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