The new boss of KBC Bank Ireland has said he thinks the bank should continue to "tread carefully" when it comes to the issue of non-performing loans (NPLs). 

Chief Executive Peter Roebben said the bank must remain conscious of the vulnerability of those who find themselves in arrears difficulty and behave accordingly. 

Addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach, he said the remaining NPLs at the bank concern primary dwelling homes. 

He said the bank's approach remains that NPLs should be reduced in an "organic way", through communication with customers experiencing repayment difficulties. 

He said evidence that the mortgage arrears resolution process at the institution has been successful can be found in the fact that around 90% of arrears case borrowers have agreed a resolution option with the bank.

Repossession is an action of last resort, he added, coming at the end of an extensive process designed to identify a solution that keeps the occupant in their home. 

On the tracker mortgage controversy, Mr Roebben said KBC does not anticipate a material change in the number of cases for redress beyond the 3,737 accounts already identified. 

He said the banks is determined to right the wrongs experienced by its customers and would like to again acknowledge its errors in relation to the administration of tracker mortgages.

He added that as a newly appointed CEO, he wished to add his sincerest apologies to that of his predecessors to those affected.

Mr Roebben also publicly committed the bank to taking on board the lessons learned on behalf of its customers. 

His experience, he said, had taught him that for cultural change to be credible and sustainable, it takes time and there must be a clear horizon to move towards. 

Such change starts at the top, he said, but must ultimately engage every last member of staff. 

He added that it is his intention that KBC Bank Ireland should fully embrace Irish society's call for change.

Mr Roebben said there has been a total sea change in risk management, oversight and governance at the bank when compared with a decade ago.

He told the committee that structurally, better controls have been introduced including an independent Chief Risk Officer.

He said there is a completely different regulatory environment with a lot of interventions that provided needed checks and balances. 

Mr Roebben also said the bank is working on how to get the right balance in behaviour. 

"Is there a fair balance in how costs and benefits are shared between the bank and the customer?" he asked.

Mr Roebben said the KBC Group had a two-day session with the top 300 people in management to discuss cultural behaviour last year. 

He said the experience in Ireland at the time of the financial crisis was "very explicitly" on the agenda, "as an example of things that shouldn't happen and that should never be allowed to happen again".