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NAB not broken, but needs repairs: McEwan

Alex Druce
Ross McEwan says his mission as NAB's new CEO is to restore the bank's standing with consumers

Ross McEwan says he won't be joining a "broken bank" when he becomes NAB chief executive, but knows he will have a significant repair job on his hands.

Mr McEwan, who was unveiled as NAB's next boss on Friday, said his mission was to restore the bank's standing with consumers following its mauling at the financial services royal commission.

He conceded that bank's reputation had taken a whack both during and after the inquiry, but said the nation's fourth largest lender was not beyond repair.

"I don't think it's a broken bank: I think it is a bank that has gone through the royal commission and there has been a lot of questions asked of it - as there have been of so many other financial institutions in Australia," Mr McEwan said in Melbourne.

Mr McEwan's appointment comes five months after the resignation of former NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn, who, along with chairman Ken Henry, were singled out in Kenneth Hayne's final royal commission report.

The report expressed serious concerns about the pair's leadership of the bank and failings that included charging fees for no service.

Mr McEwan said he had been following the work of the royal commission from afar in his previous role as boss of the UK's once troubled Royal Bank of Scotland.

Mr McEwan is scheduled to start his new job no later than April next year.

The 62-year-old New Zealander said there were parallels between his work in restoring profitability at RBS and the challenge that lay ahead of him in Australia.

He said this includes navigating a low interest rate environment and the emergence of rival platforms, but ultimately, the task would come down to improving customer service.

"One of the things that does attract me to NAB, (are) probably similar to the reasons I went to RBS, that there are many challenges here that I believe I can be very helpful to this bank to get itself through," Mr McEwan said.

This may also include things that don't always make customers happy, such as a continued review of bricks and mortar operations, Mr McEwan said.

He also warned that reputational repair would not be an overnight achievement.

"There is no silver bullet ... It's every interaction with every person every day has to be a great interaction with a customer, with the customer at the centre of that," he said.

"It does take a long time to repair reputations of an institution such as this".

Mr McEwan will be based at NAB's headquarters in Melbourne, a city where he previously lived with his family.

Referring to Australia as his "half home", Mr McEwan said his Australian father had served with the air force in Borneo.

"It doesn't mean I'll support the Australian rugby team," he said.