The one-hundred-day sprint

As we head into the mid 2020’s, mergers and acquisitions across the globe continue to hold a prominent position in the financial services world.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

At ANZ, we are fortunate to be participating in this global trend by reinvesting and reshaping our Australian business – through the proposed acquisition of Suncorp Bank.

"If we continue to stay true to our values and purpose and remain focused on the deal logic, we will make this work.”

The deal, worth $4.9 billion, will accelerate growth in our Retail and Commercial businesses, with 1.2 million Suncorp Bank customers set to come across to ANZ. As of December 2023, the acquisition includes $56 billion of home loans with strong risk profile, $52 billion in high-quality deposits and $12 billion in commercial loans.

Importantly, this opportunity will tilt our organisational axis north and it’s exciting to tap the potential of bigger exposure to the Queensland market – a fast-growing state buoyed by a rising population.

While the acquisition remains subject to two conditions being met, we are inching ever closer to completion, expected to take place in August. Getting to completion is complicated, requiring us to stand up services, systems and processes to ensure the incoming Suncorp Bank customers and team experience a seamless Day 1.

In parallel we have needed to look beyond Day 1 and invest heavily in planning for the integration of our businesses.

We can all appreciate the complexity of large-scale transformations such as this one. To achieve sustainable business outcomes requires a holistic approach involving multiple stakeholders, intricate processes, diverse technologies and operational change. 

We also know the harsh reality; many acquisitions fail. According to Harvard Business Review, most studies show 70 per cent to 90 per cent of acquisitions do not achieve the original aspiration of the transaction.

Unsurprisingly, failure to successfully execute - not the wrong strategy or the wrong deal – causes many acquisitions to fall short of expectations.

Apart from a rigorous focus on execution, we learned other important drivers of success (and failure) from across the globe – important lessons for us all to be aware of.

Shared accountability with clarity

This is a unique and complex transaction. However, at its core this is a whole-of-bank transformation – across Commercial, Retail and Enablement functions – requiring the entire ANZ village to work together if it is to land successfully.

Shared accountability becomes paramount due to the interconnected nature of tasks and the potential domino effects of decisions made at various levels.

The interconnected nature of the work means ANZ’s Integration Management Office (IMO), which I have the privilege of leading, acts as the ‘control tower’ for all work relating to the integration. This ensures shared accountability remains clear and prioritised.

This is particularly true when it comes to ensuring we engage with Suncorp Bank in a structured and sequenced way from Day 1. In the first 100 days leaders across our bank will want to (and need to) engage with the Suncorp Bank team and fellow leaders in order to deeply understand the business and prepare for the future.

While this engagement is critical, we need to be clear between ANZ and Suncorp Bank on how we will best operate these two businesses side by side. If we don’t take the time to do this in a clear and consistent way, we risk overwhelming the Suncorp Bank team, potentially disrupting business momentum.

We know from acquisitions globally this is a real and present risk. So the IMO will help navigate through this period.

Lack of speed kills deals  

We know the slow bike gets the wobbles. And this is equally true for transformations such as ours. Bringing two banks together is a multiyear journey but the key to success is a strong first year.

We must generate proof points to ensure we start with enough momentum to carry us over the next three to five years. According to McKinsey, if key milestones are delivered on time, organisations are twice more likely to meet and exceed their targets and hit their long-term strategic objectives. Success breeds success.

We also know such integrations will inevitably be ‘messy’ at times. As we look to move at speed, there will be bumps along this multi-year program, in particular during the first year. Our ability to adapt and respond quickly to these hurdles will be critical.

We must solve these challenges as one bank – not by function or business unit. It will be a challenge in our federated operating model but we will make this work.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

I know this quote by the legendary Peter Drucker is much used, but in the context of integrations it certainly rings true. Recently, I had the opportunity to join fellow Integration Leads in the United States to share experience and best practice.

Interestingly, while capturing value and delivery against milestones is essential, the key message from M&A experts: was culture kills deals. When integrations go poorly, 49 per cent of the time it is because cultural issues were not dealt with properly.

While adhering to strict competition guardrails, we are working with Suncorp Bank’s leadership team to understand cultural similarities and differences. This work will ramp up following Day 1.

By investing time to understand the current Suncorp Bank culture and ways of working, we can anticipate and limit friction, identify where cultural shifts are required and look to leverage some of Suncorp Bank’s strengths.  

Importantly – while the path to completion has been longer than expected – we have used the time to build strong relationships with Suncorp Bank’s leadership team.

We have overcome challenges, had robust and valuable conversations and are starting to understand each other and our differences. As a result, we are confident we’ll be well poised to overcome inevitable rub points.


Often under prioritised, the importance of communications is imperative. Transformations rely on clear communication. We have focused on establishing transparent channels of communication to ensure expectations, responsibilities and goals are clearly understood.

This also feeds into shared accountability – the clearer everyone is about their role, the smoother the integration journey. On Day 1, communication needs to be simple and uncomplicated.

It’s about Suncorp Bank continuing to operate without disruption and interference and ANZ delivering on the basic elements necessary to ensure employees are safely onboarded and customers experience no change.

To do this well, for at least the first 100 days, the IMO needs to be the ‘front door’ for all communication between ANZ and the Suncorp Bank team. We know a key strength of our people at ANZ is we are inherently curious and relationship oriented.

These strengths will be so important as we seek to gain a deeper understanding of the Suncorp Bank business. The IMO is here to help to ensure we don’t smother our new colleagues with too much attention and ensure an aligned and consistent message across the key areas of focus.

At the end of the day, subject to conditions* being met and the acquisition being completed, we will be one team operating under the same purpose, strategy and with the same goals and objectives. Our branding might look different but our focus on our people and our customers will be the same – and we can only win together.

We are not complacent and recognise how hard this integration will be. But should this acquisition pass the remaining conditions, we have learned lessons from others and are confident our preparations have set us up for a higher likelihood of success.

If we continue to stay true to our values and purpose and remain focused on the deal logic, we will make this work.

Daniel King is Managing Director Suncorp Integration, ANZ.

*While the acquisition remains subject to legislative change in Queensland and approval by the Federal Treasurer, our preparations for the integration of Suncorp Bank into ANZ Group continue.

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

editor's picks

27 Apr 2023

The drivers of M&A are changing but the fundamentals of success are clear

Louise Higgins | Managing Director, Suncorp Integration ANZ

Global experts reveal a deeper, more insightful understanding of managing large scale acquisitions.

28 Mar 2023

Elliott: Queensland's road to greater prosperity

Shayne Elliott | Chief Executive Officer, ANZ

Strategic investment and focus on emerging sectors can bring the Sunshine State additional economic growth.