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The Commonwealth Bank has defended hiring staff in India for digital and compliance jobs, saying it can't find the skills it needs in Australia.
At the bank's annual general meeting, held via video link on Wednesday, chair Catherine Livingstone faced questions from several shareholders about the bank's Indian subsidiary.
She said the bank has recruited 3000 staff in Australia in the last couple of months and is trying to fill thousands more jobs, but it can't find enough digital workers onshore.
"We're definitely looking to recruit people in Australia but we can't get all of the skills that we need," Ms Livingstone told investors.
Seventy per cent of transactions at CBA now happen on digital platforms.
Ms Livingstone said the bank is also retraining some workers in Australia whose jobs are no longer needed.
In her speech to the AGM, Ms Livingstone said CBA had implemented widespread changes in its culture, three years after giving an enforceable undertaking to regulator APRA.
"We recognise that sustaining the hard-fought gains of the past three years will require a permanent commitment by the bank at all levels," she said.
But the insistence on cultural change comes just after allegations the bank knowingly underpaid its own staff more than $16 million, while telling them they would be better off under its pay deals.
Ms Livingstone, who was re-elected at the meeting with a 98 per cent vote in favour, told investors that legal issues the bank is currently facing stem from past problems which should not be seen as a reflection of the way the bank now operates.
Investor questions to the board were dominated by climate-related issues with the group Market Forces backing a failed motion to allow shareholders to put non-binding resolutions at board meetings.
CBA said it does not finance new or expanded thermal coal and its lending to the fossil fuel sector overall has fallen significantly.
Meanwhile, chief executive Matt Comyn gave an upbeat assessment of the local economy, saying government stimulus during lockdowns has been working and almost all borrowers who took a COVID-19 loan holiday have restarted their repayments.
About 160,000 mortgage holders and about 90,000 business loan holders deferred their loans during the pandemic.
The bank has extended its moratorium on foreclosures until February 2022.
As for the real estate boom, Mr Comyn said the bank was keeping a close eye on the market.
"Housing activity is still strong. We are continuing to monitor this closely and adjust our lending settings appropriately," he said.
Last week the banking regulator APRA told lenders to increase their home loan serviceability interest rate buffers, in a bid to rein in higher risk lending.
Ms Livingstone said the bank is consulting its staff on COVID-19 vaccination requirements, but noted employees are not currently required to return to the office.
Other major Australian companies, including BHP and Telstra, have already mandated staff vaccinations.
Just under 95 per cent of investors backed Mr Comyn's pay package, which was worth about $6 million in 2020.
CBA reported cash profit of $8.65 billion for the year to June 30, up almost 20 per cent on the previous year, and a statutory bottom-line result of $8.84 billion.
It was also boosted by a $554 million drop in its provisions for impaired loans to reflect an improvement in economic conditions and outlook.
At the start of October, the bank concluded a $6 billion share buyback.