Now I know what it feels like to be outnumbered.
Being one of only a handful of New Zealanders sitting amongst some 600 Australians at a conference in Melbourne recently.
So I was quietly chuffed to hear it mentioned that a New Zealander holds a top job in Australia. I felt that sense of pride knowing a New Zealander is footing it with the best.
David Gonski, chairman of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), was speaking about ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott.
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He said ANZ is being competently and skilfully managed by Elliott. Elliott grew up in West Auckland. It shouldn't come as a surprise when we hear a New Zealander is doing well in a top job anywhere around the world. We have leadership smarts, business savvy and genuine adaptability.
These characteristics apply in New Zealand's business environment just as they do in other countries.
We even have a man in the White House, which does surprise me. No amount of money would entice me to work for a boss whose values are in stark contrast to my own.
Elliott was the first CEO of the big four Australian banks Commonwealth, Westpac, ANZ, and National Bank of Australia to back a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the banking sector in Australia.
They had requested the Australian Government take a hard look at the financial industry: banking, superannuation and financial services to see how it was operating. There had been rumblings of conduct that fell well below acceptable standards.
The commission has presented its interim report, the final report is due in February next year. The commissioner Kenneth Hayne didn't pull any punches in the report. Evidence showed frequent wrongdoing was too often driven by greed or the pursuit of short-term profit at the expense of basic standards of honesty.
"Banks have gone to the edge of what is permitted, and too often beyond that limit, in pursuit of profit. And the case studies showed, that there had been occasions when profit has been allowed to trump compliance with the law, and many more occasions where profit trumped doing the right thing by customers."
Elliott called the commission's findings "saddening and embarrassing". "We have broken the trust of many of our customers for which we unreservedly apologise," he said.
It's interesting that the previous Turnbull government wasn't at all keen on an inquiry. Yet it has unearthed a string of scandals, including wealth advisers charging dead people for services, instances of lying to regulators about misconduct and loan officers accepting bribes.
Saddening and embarrassing is putting it mildly. Bordering on criminal behaviour more likely. Something is seriously wrong when this behaviour goes unchecked for years, as it has done. Is it a leadership problem? In my opinion it always is.
Many of the Australian companies named in the report have New Zealand subsidiaries.
They often have the same top senior executives and board members on both sides of the Tasman. Standards of Practice are set at the top. Best practice filters down from the boardroom, through management to the whole organisation. Greed starts in the boardroom.
Should New Zealand's financial industry be examined? Should customers be worried? I think we should be. Our Reserve Bank and the Financial Markets Authority seem to think so too.
They would like to see some investigation into the behaviour of our financial sector.
I'll add my voice to that request. Do our institutions promote an aggressive, sales-driven culture, which emphasises profit at all costs?
How will we know if even a cursory investigation is not undertaken? We saw some 30 investment companies collapse a few years ago in New Zealand. You can put that down to greed.
It's true "we don't know what we don't know". So let's have an investigation and find out one way or the other. Australians didn't expect the report to be so damning.
It has eroded community trust. I want to believe we don't have anything to worry about.
And that our trust in the financial industry isn't being undermined.
So I was taken aback when my friend who works in one of the four banks above told me over our lunchtime discussion recently "don't be so bloody naïve".