AMP chief executive Francesco De Ferrari has apologised to Julia Szlakowski over the firm’s handling of her claim against former AMP Capital boss Boe Pahari.

Andrew Leigh, Labor MP and deputy chair of the House of Representatives economics committee, asked Mr De Ferrari: “Do you think that AMPs statement describing Mr Paharis conduct as ‘lower level’ have damaged Ms Szlakowski’s standing with institutions in the broader financial sector?”
“Again, let me apologise to Ms Szlakowski,” Mr De Ferrari said.
“These are very complicated matters to deal with because we need to deal with them respecting the privacy and confidentiality of all the people involved,” he said.
Former AMP Capital institutional director Julia Szlakowski. 
“We really deeply regretted the incident. The board and Mr Pahari apologised.”
“We recognised in listening to feedback from our employees, shareholders and clients that the decision did not meet the overall expectations.”
Dr Leigh asked: “What do you believe to be minor, moderate or severe harassment. How do you define those terms?”
“It was not up to me to define them,” Mr De Ferrari said. “There was a Queen’s Counsel that specialised in employment and labour law.”
Mr De Ferrari said while there were “clearly” areas in which the company needed to improve, AMP was “true to its purpose of being a friend in uncertain times” and that the group “really felt more like a family” when he joined in late 2018.
“Clearly the issues you see in the press are distressing. I really don’t believe they are reflective of our wider culture that ive seen. I don’t see how AMP is significantly different from a lot of the issues that are present in a lot of large corporates,” Mr De Ferrari said.
“I do not believe that misconduct is a systemic issue within our business,” he said.
Tim Wilson, Liberal MP and chair of the committee, rebuked this and said there seemed to be deeper “ongoing” issues at the company.
“Youre saying it’s a family and everyone is happy. Every day I pick up the Financial Review and other newspapers and read something completely different,” Mr Wilson said.
“What the hell is going on at AMP?” Mr Wilson said.
“Can you please step us through what the hell is going on and what you are practically doing,” he said.
AMP on Thursday announced it had appointed global inclusions consultancy Symmetra for a “workplace conduct” review which will make “recommendations covering policies, leadership, governance and behaviours” to help drive diversity at the wealth management company.
New chairman Debra Hazelton has also set up a “culture” working group at the board level, supported by consultancy Oliver Wyman, to “formalise the shared beliefs of the board” that was responsible for promoting Mr Pahari to head AMP Capital despite him copping a $500,000 penalty in 2018 after settling a sexual harassment claim.
Last month, AMP chairman David Murray resigned following sustained shareholder pressure following The Australian Financial Review’s investigation into the company, along with AMP Capital chairman John Fraser, while Mr Pahari was sent back to his previous job.
Former chairman David Murray and John Fraser have resigned over the Boe Pahari scandal while Pahari has been demoted.  
Ms Hazelton has since launched a “portfolio review” which could lead to the full or partial sale of AMP’s operations.
On Thursday, the $4 billion superannuation fund for lawyers, LegalSuper, announced it had pulled its $40 million investment in AMP Capital’s ethical balanced fund and transferred it to Pendal Group.
LegalSuper chief executive Andrew Proebstl said fund terminated its mandate “due to concerns with investment performance and recent reports about culture at AMP”.
Last month, industry superannuation giant QSuper canned a $400 million mandate held in the same AMP Capital fund.
Late last week Zenith Investment Partners became the latest consultancy to warn investors about placing funds with AMP Capital. Major asset advisory JANA late last month said it would “not recommend any AMP Capital strategies to clients” due to the fallout from the promotion and subsequent demotion of Mr Pahari.
Frontier Advisors, which serves more than 40 institutional investor clients, half of whom represent superannuation savings, has also launched a review of AMP Capitals culture and gender diversity.
AMP’s portfolio review over the next few weeks, carried out by Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and King & Wood Mallesons will identify if any firm offers are better than the potential growth offered by Mr De Ferrari’s bogged-down turnaround strategy.
In August, AMP Australia chief executive Alex Wade resigned abruptly and without explanation. AMP Capital’s New Zealand boss, Bevan Graham, and head of distribution, Greg McMaster, have also quit the company. Kristen Le Mesurier, AMP Capital portfolio manager and ethical investment specialist, left after the departures of Australian equities head Genevieve Murray, sustainable investment boss Emily Woodland, and global chief investment officer of equities David Allen.