Molyneux: half a century of learning through history

In December 1976, ANZ – and the world - looked very different. Only a few years earlier, in 1970, ANZ Bank merged with the English, Scottish and Australian Bank to become Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited – the largest deal of its kind in Australian banking history at the time.

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There was no such thing as internet banking, ATMs or EFTPOS in those days. Staff certainly didn’t have access to emails and a personal computer, what was that? But for a young Rob Molyneux, that year marked the start of a nearly five-decade long career at ANZ.

“If you're curious [and] ask the right questions… you’ll learn every day from the access to information and different people… That's the bit that I'll miss the most.” – Rob Molyneux

Speaking with bluenotes as he concludes his career, Senior Risk Advisor Rob admits he never intended to become a banker.

“There was this new subject computer science no one knew anything about,” Rob recalls. “I sat in on a couple of lectures and thought, ‘I might be able to do this’. So I became a computer scientist - whatever that is!”

When Rob completed his computer science degree, the skills he had gained were highly sought after. After many interviews at other companies, Rob took a job at ANZ as a trainee analyst programmer in the bank’s “tech shop”.

Because expertise in this area was low but demand was growing, the bank had reached out to its branch network to build out the computer programming department. Rob says this exposure to bankers meant he learnt a lot about how the bank ran in the first few years of his career which laid the foundations for the rest of his varied career.

Rob moved on from the bank’s technology department and enjoyed a broad career across roles in Australia and overseas. He points to his time in the US – his first ever overseas trip – and London, post-acquisition of Grindlays Bank in the 1908s, as highlights.

Upon returning to Australia, Rob was confronted by the 1992 property credit crisis which led to a recession in Australia.

“It was really tough… [but] I learnt a lot,” he recalls. “After the ’92 crisis… I actually helped set up the bank’s Risk department – a lot of people don’t know that.”

With no other banks boasting a Risk department to base the model off yet, Rob’s mandate from the board was to make sure the credit crisis “never happens again”.

“I remember going to [ANZ’s office at] 55 Collins Street in Melbourne… I went to the floor and two people were sitting in the corner. That was the start of the [Risk] department.”

Rob says the team naturally concentrated heavily on credit risk initially because of the experiences of the crisis.

“If you worked in a bank in ‘92 [during] the recession and the credit crisis, you felt it,” Rob says. “You lend money and you hope customers pay you back. But some of them, for whatever reason, won't be able to.”

Rob returned to the Risk department another two times across his career. Once to drive the bank’s response to the global regulatory wave, the Basel II recommendations, and then another “short stint” which ended being a decade-long – and the final role of his career.

“I often turned up just after there was a disaster somewhere,” Rob jokes. “[That’s when] they used to send me back.”

Despite many difficult periods, Rob says working at the bank has been an “absolute privilege”.

“You can't comprehend too many industries where you get access to so many other industries, geographies or governments.

“If you're curious [and] ask the right questions… you’ll learn every day from the access to information and different people… That's the bit that I'll miss the most.”

For everyone who has come in contact with Rob across his career, he is well-known for his deep knowledge of ANZ and banking. And his sense of humour. He’ll be deeply missed at ANZ and we wish him well in his retirement.

Andrew Cornell is Managing Editor of bluenotes

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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