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I want my AMP back

By Chris Abood - posted Wednesday, 9 September 2020

"A sure friend in uncertain times".

I worked for AMP from the mid 80's to the mid 90's as a computer programmer. It was a great company to work for. The people were talented and professional, and I learnt a lot - especially about financial management from the many Agents I worked with. When I started, I undertook induction where I and other new employees were introduced to the company's CEO and the above company motto. At induction, we learned that AMP owned six percent of the share market. If you had put all the buildings AMP owned together, it would have been the size of Brisbane's CBD. AMP constructed Australia's first skyscraper. They were an economic powerhouse. With all that power behind it, they acted responsibly and were never arrogant.

AMP was also where I met my wife of 27 years. My manager was a mathematical and computer programming genius. I learnt a lot from him. Later in my career, when I taught IT at TAFE, I taught my students many of the lessons he taught me.


In the spring of 91, I got very sick, and I mean very sick. When my wife took me to hospital, the doctors told her I would not make it through the night.I did, but at a cost. I lost my left leg due to complications. I spent the next month in ICU. It was four months before I could return to work.

In all that time, AMP kept me on full pay, and went out of their way to help me get back to work, giving me a car spot in the city among other things. I was even surprised to get a letter from AMP's CEO at the time. I had no idea he even knew who I was, after all I was a lowly grade four programmer in a company of many thousands. He wished me well and looked forward to my return to my AMP duties. I was even told he wanted (and read) a weekly update on my condition. He was a CEO who really seemed to care about his employees. This was the AMP I remember, a company that lived and breathed its motto.

Today, I do not even know what AMP stands for anymore, except for maintaining eye-watering pay packages for their executives while the company makes billion-dollar losses and its share price is in free fall. The underlying problems came to light in the recent Banking Royal Commission. Fees for no service, charging dead people, aggressive sales tactics and lying to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

Then came the Boe Pahari scandal. I thought sexual harassment was just that, sexual harassment. I was surprised to learn that AMP categorises sexual harassment into levels and as long as you keep your sexual harassing to a low level, not only will you not be sacked, but you will be promoted. It has been reported that the reason he has not been sacked is that he makes the company money.

AMP today has lost its moral compass.

It has also been reported that internal investigators are scouring phone and email records to find out who has been leaking to the media presumably with a view to sacking them.


AMP today just does not get it. They are an arrogant company that is tone deaf and which is not acting responsibly.

When did the rot set in? I believe it started when the money men moved in. To this day, I still do not see the benefit of de-mutualisation except for getting their fingers in the pie. That's when the company changed.

Many have suggested that since the brand name has been so trashed, the only way forward is to split the company up and sell off the pieces. This may happen anyway, as AMP is now in take over territory. There will be corporate raiders out their eyeing this big juicy pie. Can AMP be turned around? I hope so. There is a new and talented board with a new Chair (why is it that when things go south, they always give the hospital pass to a woman). Hopefully, they can change the culture and get back to their motto.

The only contact I have had with AMP recently was with a life insurance policy. But that has been sold off to another company. As such, I no longer have any skin in the game. So why am I talking about this? Over the past two decades, there has been a steady decline in people's trust in our institutions, both government and non-government. This decline has been accelerating. We want to know that our institutions will be there for when we need them and will always do the right thing. Sadly, this is no longer the case. Trust these days is in very short supply. I hope that a selloff is not the only option the AMP board is considering and that at least some thought is being given to doing the hard yards of getting back on track.

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About the Author

Chris Abood is a teacher and computer programmer. He has taught at TAFE and private RTOs, and has worked as a computer programmer mainly in banking and finance. He is concerned with the effects and use of technology within society. These opinions are his own.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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