50 years as a brand, 185 as a bank

On October 1, 1970, in what was then the largest merger in Australian banking history, ANZ Ltd merged with the English, Scottish and Australian Bank Limited to form Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited - the modern ANZ.

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The evolution of the ANZ brand.

Not only did two major banking networks with histories dating back to the Australian gold rush come together but a brand logo was launched which remains to this day, subtly evolved over the decades.

"When I look through the chapters of this history, I don’t just see a sepia picture of a bank serving migrants coming ashore three quarters of a century ago but the fabric of who we are today, a bank prepared to back those with a vision for a better life” – Shayne Elliott

A 50 year anniversary of the launch of ANZ isn’t just a commemoration but a timely reminder of the vital importance of history and heritage in the enduring value of the bank today.

The bank’s purpose – shaping a world where people and communities thrive – may have only had that form of words for a few years but that ethos has been evident from the very beginning.

As ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott says “we turn 50 this year but behind that brand is a 185 year history of working in communities and helping grow the wealth of companies and individuals. Our purpose embodies that history”.

“I’m a history buff but history is not just a timeline and some fascinating artefacts, it constitutes who we are as people and the culture of our organization,” Elliott says.

“When I look through the chapters of this history, I don’t just see a sepia picture of a bank serving migrants coming ashore three quarters of a century ago but the fabric of who we are today, a bank prepared to back those with a vision for a better life. We have customers who have been with us for five generations, one company we have banked for a century.

“Fifty years after the merger with the ES&A which created the bank of today, our ambition is to run our business and serve our customers in a way which values that history for the next 50. And beyond.”

One company, the family-owned Gibbon Group, has been with ANZ for both a century and through five generations. The company is a national wholesale distributor commercial carpets and installation accessories for flooring, currently managed by Ainsley Gibbon with her two daughters Georgia and Celia.

ANZ’s own history, before the ES&A merger, has also been essential to the bank of today. Most significantly, two banks of similar size and heritage came together in 1951: the Bank of Australasia and the Union Bank of Australia, a merger of equals.

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Of the many acquisitions which have occurred since then, two major banks in particular have played a notable role in shaping today’s ANZ: Grindlays Bank, only owned from 1984-2000 but during that time shaping ANZ’s international network; and the National Bank of New Zealand (NBNZ), a core element of the bank which today is New Zealand’s largest.

With the formal adoption of the Purpose Statement in 2017, Elliott articulated a clear vision for the bank which also underpins its strategy. That is:

  • Being Australia’s only truly regional bank – delivering value from innovative and convenient financial solutions through a seamless regional network for target customers.
  • Attracting the best and most diverse employees, creating good leaders and a talent pipeline. Being known as a great place to develop and recognised around the world as a door-opening name on the CV.
  • Showing leadership on important issues and doing the right thing, even when it comes at a cost.
  • Delivering consistently strong financial results for our investors with a balance between growth and return, and the short and long term.

The creation of the modern ANZ in 1970 delivered an institution that was at the forefront of the shift of banks into new technology.

In 1982 ANZ launched the first 24/7 “Night & Day Bank” – an ATM - in Victoria., a website, went live in 1996 followed closely by the then revolutionary channels of phone and internet banking.

2010 saw ANZ again at the forefront of the technology revolution with the launch of the GoMoney smart phone app. goMoneyTM  was first ‘mobile to mobile’ or ‘person to person’ payment app in the Australian Market

A further, key, amalgamation of brands occurred in 2012 the National Bank of New Zealand, acquired in 2003, became ANZ.

By 2016 banking on smart phones was well developed but payments weren’t. ANZ again led the field with Apple Pay, the first major Australian bank to give customers access to a new way to make a contactless payment – even more desirable in these COVID days.

ANZ has also been one of the most innovative institutions on the funding front, particularly with green and social impact finance. In 2018 the banks signed the first agreement with Fortescue Metals under a $50 million funding initiative. The guaranteed leasing facility would help Aboriginal businesses obtain access to competitive funding for equipment.

The last 50 years are of course rich with incident and ANZ’s retired officers club has been compiling a wonderful archive of reminiscences – such as this by Joe Busuttil.

Shortly after joining ES&A, I was conscripted and served two years in the Army. During my time away, the ES&A kept me on its books and made up the shortfall from my army pay. A pittance compared to present days; my net fortnightly pay was $11.22. After my two-year army “secondment” I returned to the local ES&A and resumed duties, appointed as “head teller”.

I can recall my manager calling the Team together one Friday night before our “informal get together “ and announcing that as I had safely returned back to ES&A, the ANZ were announcing a formal takeover/merger so that they could employ me, having once rejected my application. From there on, I was blamed by all the Team for the extra workloads imposed by the takeover. 

I enjoyed a rewarding career with ANZ which lasted for forty-one years. I look back with fond memories on achievements and many friendships made over the years.”

In the business pages, huge mergers are big end of town affairs, rife with corporate intrigue. But of course they play out at every level of the organisation as Ed Laity remembers: “Just prior to the merger I was Accountant Teller at ANZ High Street Ashburton in Victoria.  I was promoted to the ES&A Bank at 387 Sydney Road Brunswick as Accountant and reported for duty approximately two months prior to the merger. They were interesting times, firstly, I had to learn the Scottie system, then at balance time, transfer the books to the ANZ system. Fortunately, all went well! “

Jumping the gun… from John Brown of the ANZ retired officers club.

A little-known fact regarding the ANZ/ES&A merger is that one group beat the official merger date, 1 October 1970, by about five months.

The ANZ Basketball Club at that time, had nine teams in competition, it also coordinated the annual Interbank Basketball Lightning Premiership. Through these events, I met and become friends with Kevin Mitchell who played with the ES&A men’s team and coached the ES&A women’s team.

In early 1970, informal discussions commenced between the two basketball clubs, Kevin representing ES&A, and it was realised that at merger date, the two clubs would still be competing in their separate competitions as ANZ and ES&A – which meant they would not be able to compete as a merged team until the beginning of the following Summer season. This prompted a quick re-think, and it was unanimously agreed the Clubs should merge before the 1970 Winter season commenced. In April/May 1970 meetings were held and the clubs were merged about five months before the official merger date.

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The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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