Elliott: a stellar result with all businesses performing strongly

ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott says a “great” interim result is testimony to seven years of work on balancing, de-risking and refocusing the bank by an experienced team in a time of global financial ructions.

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Speaking with bluenotes on video, Elliott said the lender’s total revenue in the half of A$10.5 billion, was the highest on record. He said this was crucial as it showed the bank had been able to sharpen its purpose and grow revenue, even as it was offloading other income generating parts of the business.

“While the environment's been good, we've really been able to outperform as a result of the repositioning of the bank.”

“Let's not forget that over those seven years, we sold 30 businesses, some quite large like our wealth management businesses, and so we've been able to replace all of that, and that's come about by a focus on doing a few things and doing them really well,” Elliott said.

Click here to read the transcript

ANZ released an audited Statutory Profit after tax for the six months to March 31 of $3.5 billion, flat on the prior comparable. Cash profit from continuing operations was $3.8 billion, up 23 per cent on the previous year. The dividend was 81 cents a share.

Elliott said it was “really important” all four businesses – Institutional, New Zealand, Australia Retail and Australia Commercial – all contributed in a positive way to the result.

“We haven't been able to say that very often over the last number of years, normally one of them is struggling or has got some challenges, but all four did really well,” he said.

Elliott acknowledged the banking sector had enjoyed a more supportive environment to boost returns in the half but successful banks, like ANZ, had to be properly poised to take advantage.

“I'm the first to agree that there has been a very supportive environment for the financial sector, so that's been a good thing,” he said.

“While the environment's been good, we've really been able to outperform as a result of the repositioning of the bank. But over and above that, what's really great about it is, it’s the culmination of a strategy that we have been executing over seven years in my time as CEO, to simplify and strengthen the bank, and that’s been a lot of hard work.”

Elliott said the bank had been quietly going about executing large scale strategies – including setting up a Non-Operating Holding Company and meeting renewed New Zealand regulatory standards – that would impel even better results.

“Probably the most important thing to me – I think we achieved more in this half than in any prior half, certainly over the last 10 years,” he said.

“When I think about getting the new Non-Operating Holding Company across the line, or delivering the biggest regulatory program we've ever had to do, which is in New Zealand, something called BS11. It's the largest project ANZ’s ever had to do, it's taken many years and we've got that completed.

“And there's a whole bunch of other things that we've done strategically that really set us up for the future.”

Elliott said that despite a stellar set of numbers the pace of change would not relent. He said this was driven by increased technological development and evolving expectations from customers, regulators and the community at large.

“Despite it being a really good result, a great result in many aspects, the reality is looking forward and there are a lot of challenges ahead,” he said.

As the “economic cycle is turning” – with rising interest rates and a tougher economic environment – there was going to be more stress in household and business budgets.

“This is the first time in living memory for many people that rates are actually materially higher today than they were a year ago,” Elliott said

“That hasn't been the case for, 20 years or so. That puts all sorts of challenges to people, a lot of businesses were built over that 20-year period, and only had one experience with interest rates falling and inflation falling.”

He said the role of a lender was to support customers and help them navigate through stressful periods while allocating capital to ensure communities thrive and prosper.

Elliott remains excited about the acquisition of Suncorp Bank. He said if ANZ was successful it would be a more effective competitor in the market, particularly in Queensland.

Elliott also discussed competitive pressures in Australia’s housing market.

You can listen to the full conversation by watching to the video above.

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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