Over the last 12 months, the Board EESG Committee has been spending more time on our approach to scams and understanding the challenges and opportunities for customers on climate and biodiversity.
My ERBC Committee has spent more time focused on our carbon offsetting strategy, family violence and financial abuse, and our commitment to improving the financial wellbeing of customers.
Both bodies are provided with regular updates on ANZ’s performance against key ESG external ratings – such as ratings agency S&P and the not-for-profit governance monitor CDP – which provide an indication of how external stakeholders perceive our performance. Governance is further embedded in the business through our group scorecard, staff training programs and ethical decision making framework.
Ensuring our governance processes – such as the ethical decision making framework - are embedded in our day-to-day work not only helps us create long-term value, it also enables us to manage risks.
For example, we recently assessed the impact of customers using credit cards to fund cryptocurrency purchases. Our discussion covered the volumes of these transactions, questions around customer harm, options for an ANZ response and the impact of the response on customers.
The great housing challenge
It goes without saying that housing remains a key priority for us in both Australia and New Zealand.
It remains one of the great challenges for our generation – to ensure everyone in Australia and New Zealand, irrespective of background and circumstance, has access to affordable, liveable and sustainable homes.
These challenges have recently been exacerbated by higher interest rates, impacting particularly those with higher levels of debt, first home buyers, those more exposed to cost-of-living challenges or who have less stable employment.
There was hope higher rates would lead to a moderation in house prices, however, after a 9 per cent fall in capital cities, it appears house prices and rents are rising again due to supply shortages. This is a significant challenge and not easily resolved.
ANZ is playing a role by increasing our lending in affordable housing, on both sides of the Tasman, and supporting new business models like Assemble here in Australia or our “BluePrint to Build” program in New Zealand which has helped more than 8,000 Kiwis build new homes with discounted lending.
More broadly, we have already committed $A10 billion to fund affordable housing by 2030 and are pleased to have booked $A4.4 billion to date. In New Zealand we have also supported 4,800 households with over $NZ200 million in new lending through our Good Energy Home loan since launch in 2022. There is more we can do and we will.
Housing is not only an important business for us but also core to our customer proposition and core to what our community expects from banks – and therefore one of the areas we care about most.
We will, of course, continue to seek opportunities to expand our presence in this sector and contribute positively and constructively to the national dialogue. It is an area that rightfully occupies significant time at the Board and with our Executive team and is a great example of where purpose, strategy and business opportunity come together.
Shayne Elliott is CEO of ANZ
This article has been adapted from speaking notes at ANZ's ESG Forum. The presentation and investor discussion pack is available on the shareholder centre.