As we approach the final months of the year, I’m sure we all hoped the pandemic would be largely behind us. It isn’t but there are positive signs of a more optimistic 2022.
It was five years ago we outlined our vision for the future. A future that would see traditional banking models under significant pressure from a range of new competitors.
Customers want the same experience in banking they can get from online shopping or travel – convenient, safe, always on. At the same time, society expects more from us. Investors and regulators are rightly more sensitive to banks operating in an ethical, environmentally sustainable and transparent manner. Politicians are also holding the industry to greater account.
The pace of change has been faster than anticipated. Fortunately, we had already made significant progress in readying the organisation for the next phase of our evolution.
We’re now a much simpler and lower risk bank. We focus on the customers for whom we can add value and we’ve delivered on what we said we would. We are clear on who we bank and how we will drive value for customers and shareholders. As the Chairman mentions in his update, we’ve delivered a solid result this year with highlights being the strong performance in New Zealand and Institutional.
This leads to the next chapter of the bank we are building.
It is our purpose – to shape a world where people and communities thrive – which directly underpins our strategy of improving the financial wellbeing and sustainability of our customers.
For the last couple of years we have been working on a program we’ve internally referred to as ‘ANZx’. This is not just a set of new products, rather it’s improving the digital capability, the digital ‘mindset’ if you like, of our entire organisation.
The first phase of this will be the launch soon of a new proposition we are calling ANZ Plus. Initially focused on savings and deposits, ANZ Plus has been in pilot for a few months and has been specifically designed to help people manage their money better.
But ANZ Plus is just the very first step in what will be a multi-year roll out of what will eventually become the cornerstone of how our retail and small business customers bank with us in the future.
It’s a growth-oriented strategy – taking the best technology and fintech mindset and applying it to our already strong brand and customer base.
Above all, it will be a radically different approach focused on growing the financial wellbeing of our customers and we will continue to update shareholders on our progress through the year.
To help prepare for this new world we also separated our ventures and incubator business, formerly known as ANZi, into a stand-alone entity. This small but important change will accelerate our growth and deliver new digital solutions for our customers.
Now known as 1835i, this independent venture business will operate more like a start-up. We will invest where we see a path to acquire more customers, deepen relationships with existing customers or co-develop new propositions we couldn’t develop on our own. ANZ will, of course, continue to fund 1835i’s investments and oversee its governance.
An example of how digital solutions can rapidly improve our operations was the launch this year of ANZ GoBiz. This allows customers to plug their accounting software straight into our systems so we can understand their financials almost instantly and approve working capital loans much faster. We have also digitised processes in the back-end.
It works with all the major accounting software packages – Xero, MYOB and QuickBooks – covering about 70% of all small businesses in Australia and effectively reduces the time it takes to get the money in the hands of small businesses from 30 to 2 days.
We are also preparing for one of the mega-trends of the global economy – the rapid transformation of how we produce, distribute and consume energy.
This is one of the most exciting opportunities for ANZ and we are well-placed to shape and support the required economic transition. In fact, this is a major business opportunity and one in which we already have made significant gains.
Key areas of interest for us include supporting the electrification of the transport supply chain, commercialisation of hydrogen, financing energy efficient buildings and assisting our customers to establish and develop their own transition plans. As well as being a signatory to the Net-Zero Banking Alliance, these are significant areas of commercial opportunity that will underpin ANZ’s business for many years to come.
As we look to our strengths, one of the highlights this year has been the progress we have made in improving the diversity of our workforce. In fact, this year saw the fastest improvement in the representation of Women in Leadership which increased to 35.3%. This is in addition to my executive team which has 40% women and our Board which has 38%.
We know there is more to be done which is also why we signed up to Hesta’s 40:40 initiative and I was proud we were the only bank among the first ten signatories.
Our progress in building a talented and diverse team has meant some of our most senior women, in particular our former Deputy CEO Alexis George and former CFO Michelle Jablko, have been selected for high-profile and challenging roles outside of the organisation.
While this could easily be seen as a negative, I’m incredibly proud we are seen as an organisation that provides people with the opportunities they deserve. It also means we are able to broaden the experience of other executives on the team and, in the case of the CFO, appoint Farhan Faruqui to the role.
Farhan is a deeply experienced global banker who played a crucial role in the re-shaping of ANZ’s Institutional and International business and he will make just as important a contribution as our next CFO.
Finally, while this is a period of significant disruption, I’m confident in our ability to continue to deliver for all of our stakeholders. We have never been financially stronger, we are investing for growth and we have the team with the mindset and agility to deliver.
I would like to acknowledge our terrific team across the world who have done an outstanding job for their customers, our shareholders and the community. It has been a difficult year for everyone but I continue to be impressed with their resilience and hard work.
Shayne Elliott | CEO