Elliott: Faruqui has best attributes for ANZ CFO

ANZ’s newly appointed Chief Financial Officer Farhan Faruqui will bring a depth of knowledge and commercial understanding from his global business experience, says Chief Executive Shayne Elliott.

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Pic: ANZ CFO Farhan Faruqui

Speaking with bluenotes about the announcement, Elliott says he’s very excited to have Faruqui as CFO.

"Farhan is an executive with enormous experience in businesses that have been building and going through lots of change.” – Shayne Elliott 

“The partnership between a CEO and a CFO is really key to the success of a business - I've been lucky to sit on both sides of that table,” he says.

Click here for a transcript of this interview

A new phase

Elliott says Faruqui is stepping into a different role after a period of simplification for the bank.

“Farhan is an executive with enormous experience… in businesses that have been building and going through lots of change.”

Elliott explains he and the Board “of course” considered external applicants both locally and internationally, with banking backgrounds and beyond.  

“Through that rigorous process, Farhan came out on top as the person (who) we felt could add the most value over this period of time,” Elliott says.

“Farhan has hands-on experience running big teams and complex businesses across multiple geographies. Even though [ANZ is] a lot simpler than we used to be, we are still very large and [have] lots of moving parts.”

Added complexity

Elliott says the banking industry has gone through a high level of change in recent times and the sole focus for a bank is no longer simply growing the “book” or generating more revenue.

“It's about creating an ecosystem where all the parts work together in harmony [to] drive great outcomes for customers - big, small retail, Institutional, Australian, New Zealand, international. And actually generating really decent and fair, sustainable returns for our shareholders,” he explains.

“There's a lot of complexity in the [CFO] role and Farhan has the experience to understand that. He has a proven track record on execution.”

Key differentiator

Elliott says ANZ’s strategy, which has been in place since the beginning of his tenure as CEO, is very clear and the bank is getting better and better at executing it.

“Now I need somebody to sit with me and focus on the next phase - the [significant] investments we're making [in] data [and] new technologies to bring better services and propositions to our customers,” he says.

“That all has implications on our cost base and we know we've got to reduce our cost base to be competitive.”

On the task of backfilling Faruqui’s previous role as Group Executive for International Banking, Elliott says he’s confident the bank has great talent to consider running a part of the business he describes as a “massive generator of value”.

“In many ways [international banking] defines who and what we are and why we're different to many of our peers,” Elliott explains. “We've been an international bank since the day we were founded.”

Supporting customers

Elliott also briefly discussed the ongoing volatility from the COVID-19 pandemic across the bank’s various markets and the need to remain extremely flexible.

“We are fortunate at ANZ to be in a very, very strong financial position with high levels of capital [and] lots of liquidity - the benefit of the strategy we've been executing for the last five years,” Elliott says.

“But also [the] cultural strength of our people. At the end of the day, we need our people to remain optimistic, to remain resilient, to be able to continue to get their work done. It’s our culture that differentiates us.

“I'm proud of the people at ANZ and the way they've been able to lean in and really help customers through this difficult period.”

Elliott also discussed the ongoing outbreaks across Australia, particularly in New South Wales, and how the bank is continuing to support customers through hardships as they may occur.

You can listen to the whole conversation in the video above.

Andrew Cornell is Managing Editor of bluenotes

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