Leading a responsible business is personally important to me.
I have been with ANZ for about a month at the time of this report's preparation. It is clear that much has been achieved in ANZ's core markets of Australia and New Zealand:
- A great culture and workplace policies that support it
- A strong focus on retail customer service and responsible lending standards
- Innovative programs to improve financial literacy
I have also been impressed by the genuine connection between our employees - particularly our branch network - and their local communities.
These themes are on the right track and have created a very strong foundation for the bank.
As we prepare for our next phase, we are deeply conscious that doing business, especially with larger corporate clients, is becoming increasingly complex. Many forces are at play. These include social, ethical and environmental considerations, as well as the more familiar and direct concerns of an economic, financial and industrial character.
The nature of our business means we will potentially become involved in clients and transactions that raise controversial issues. Clarifying and understanding our role in these circumstances, and acting accordingly, is part of being a responsible corporation.
We must balance a diverse range of responsibilities, especially to our people, customers and shareholders. Our work will be guided by considerations including community sentiment, the decisions and policies of governments and regulators, and the views of social and environmental interest groups.
Our most important role is to work with our clients, helping them to pursue their goals and improve their social and environmental performance. In some cases, where a client's commitment does not seem evident, we must be prepared to discuss why and whether our relationship is sustainable.
We are also growing in Asia. We have our own operations and joint ventures and we are looking for the right opportunities to expand our presence there. Some of the governance and standards in these markets are quite different to what we expect in our "home" markets. I believe we can and will play, over time, an important role in contributing to the further development of these standards and the financial services sector in the region.
I want to thank you for your support for ANZ. I hope you will stay engaged in our journey and assist us in providing true leadership in responsible business management in the coming years.