Elliott: solid performance in challenging conditions

ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott says the bank’s flat full-year cash profit reflects a challenging operating environment however ongoing efficiency improvements and the bank’s business mix offset weakness in Australia.

Speaking to bluenotes on video, Elliott said many factors contributed to a tougher global environment, including global trade tensions and lower interest rates.

"We’ve put a lot more effort into rethinking what we’re doing, who we’re doing it with and our cost-base.” - Elliott

“It’s been a challenging year to see real top-line growth,” he said. “But we’re pleased with the progress we made.”

ANZ’s cash profit on a continuing bases was flat at $A6.47 billion. The statutory profit after tax was $A5.95 billion in the full year, a 7 per cent decrease. 

Click here for a transcript of this video

Elliott said a focus on efficiency of capital and resourcing has helped the bank prepare tougher conditions.

“For the last four years, we’ve talked about simplification… capital efficiency… and productivity,” he said. “Those things really did benefit the group this year and we’ve continued to focus on those to set us up for longer-term success”

Elliott said the bank had been preparing for the tougher environment for some time: “We’ve put a lot more effort into rethinking what we’re doing, who we’re doing it with and our cost base in particular.”

He emphasised the bank was able to keep costs flat or down again this year – difficult in the environment but appropriate for the times.

Elliott said the outcomes of regulatory changes and the Royal Commission hit the Australia business all at once which, together with some operational missteps, lead to a weaker result than its Institutional and New Zealand counterparts.

“We’ve had to make a lot of changes in that business in a really short period of time and that does [impact] business momentum.”

However, Elliott says the Australia division is improving with competitive product offerings, increasing share and market volume, and the rapid response allowed by the bank’s Agile structure.

He also explained the decision to hold the dividend steady while reducing franking to 70 per cent.

You can hear more of the conversation in the video above.

Andrew Cornell is managing editor of bluenotes

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