We have delivered a credible result in 2018 for shareholders, customers and employees given the significant challenges facing ANZ and the industry.
The actions commenced in 2016 to simplify our business, reduce cost and rebalance capital have us well placed to meet the challenges facing the industry.
We want to do fewer things and do them really well – while ensuring they are aligned to our purpose. At the same time, we need to focus on the areas where we can win and drive a decent return for shareholders.
In Australia and New Zealand we want to be the best bank for people who want to buy and own their home and for those who want to start, run or grow a small business. In Institutional banking we want to be the best bank in the world for those companies and organisations that move goods and money around the region.
I am confident our strategy of focus, simplification and digital transformation is right, indeed essential, for the times. A simpler organisation is less complex to manage and hence better able to deliver sustainable earnings – and when things do go wrong, we are in a better position to fix them quickly.
Retail banking in Australia is facing strong headwinds. The combined impacts of regulatory and macro prudential requirements have seen annual housing market growth slow with a substantial reduction in the average household’s potential borrowing capacity.
This year we maintained our disciplined approach to home loan growth, focusing on customers who want to buy and own their own home. We have deliberately foregone short-term revenue growth and higher margins, particularly in the investor and interest-only segments. This focus has driven better risk-adjusted returns and is in the long-term interest of shareholders.
Institutional banking continued to provide diversified earnings for the Group with the transformation of our business making earnings less volatile. ANZ was again named a top-four corporate bank in Asia and our position as a leading trade bank in the Asian region will be an even more important differentiator as housing credit slows in Australia.
This is a critical moment for the industry, our bank and our people. We continue the urgent work required to fix the significant failures highlighted by the Royal Commission. We have accepted responsibility and we are determined to improve.
We have taken action to fast-track fundamental changes involving leadership, strategy, systems, people and culture. We are also making the investments required to build a bank worthy of the trust and respect of our customers, shareholders and the community.
We will also compensate customers we have failed quickly and fairly and take steps to ensure that it does not happen again.
This year we made significant gains in using digital technology to improve the services we provide to customers, while also improving our operational capacity and reducing risk.
We rolled out the New Payments Platform to more than three million retail and commercial customers, allowing them to transfer funds to other participating banks in real-time with improved data capability. This was a complex project involving more than 150 people over three years that will provide significant benefit to our customers.
During the year, we extended our leadership in mobile payments with the addition of Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay, while adding eftpos on Apple Pay and Android Pay. In an Australian-first we now allow cash withdrawals from ANZ ATMs using any mobile device. We also introduced a new mobile banking app that remains the top-rated banking app in the Australian Apple store with almost 150,000 reviews.
In New Zealand, we made it easier for customers to interact with the bank through the introduction of a digital assistant, ‘Jamie’, using artificial intelligence technology to help customers with the top-40 most asked banking questions.
Living our purpose
A crucial evolution for our business this year has been identifying, adopting and embedding a clear sense of purpose: to shape a world where people and communities thrive.
Along with our values, this underpins everything we do and will ensure all our people can undertake their work with pride and a stronger sense of ethics and fairness.
We took action to rebalance sales incentives for front-line staff, including the removal of all sales incentives for financial planners. This included offering free advice reviews for customers concerned about their current financial position.
We invested more than $137 million in the communities in which we operate, though our employee volunteering and giving programs, our grants programs, and emergency relief measures for customers and communities impacted by natural disasters.
This year sadly has been extremely tough for many of our rural and regional customers in eastern Australia and we implemented a significant package to help our customers impacted by this once in a generation drought in NSW and Queensland.
The package included reducing rates on business loans for farmers by 1% pa in all drought declared areas and setting aside $130 million for discounted loans to help farmers re-stock and re-plant for next season. All home owners in drought declared regions were also excluded from a recent interest rate increase. In addition, we donated $1 million to rural financial counselling and community grants assisting farmers in drought-affected areas.
Our purpose also guided our decision to increase our low carbon finance commitment from $10 billion to $15 billion by 2020, and since 2015 we have funded $11.5 billion in low carbon and environmentally sustainable solutions, such as renewable energy and efficient irrigation. We are reducing our lending to the most carbon-intensive sectors but doing so in a way that supports our customers in making a manageable transition to a low carbon future.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the over 39,000 people who turn up to work every day to do a better job for our customers, shareholders and our community. While we know we still have a significant job ahead of us, we have the right team to deliver a better bank for all our stakeholders – a bank that can truly shape a world where people and communities thrive.
Shayne Elliott, AC
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER