Simplicity behind ANZ wealth changes

09-May-2016

By Sarah Kendell

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The dramatic shake-up of ANZ’s wealth division earlier this year could be put down to the bank’s desire to focus on simplifying its operations, according to ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott.

Speaking at a media briefing in Sydney on Friday, Elliott said the bank had decided to bring its wealth distribution in-house to more closely align it with the retail banking business and ensure secure end-to-end relationships with customers.

“We wanted to simplify the way we manage the wealth division and bring it right into the heart of ANZ,” Elliott remarked.

“We felt it was time to bring it back into the fold because even though wealth only makes up eight per cent of our total business, how we operate that division has the power to really move the dial on our customer relationships.”

Elliott said given the tougher regulatory environment the banking and wealth industries were facing, it made sense for ANZ to streamline its operations and focus on its strengths.

“We wanted to get ahead of the curve and really be more aggressive in our focus on simplification,” he said.

“If you’re trying to do the right thing for customers and balance a good outcome for shareholders, simplification is a much better option than trying to be all things to all people.”

The desire for simplification also lay behind the bank’s decision to transition its Oasis platform towards a new partnership with Macquarie Bank, said ANZ Australian managing director of wealth Alexis George.
“There are some parts of the business we just didn’t invest enough money in and the Oasis platform is one of them,” said George.

“We wanted to create a world-class platform for advisers and it became clear that we were not going to be able to achieve that in the time frame we had set for ourselves.”

George said a key focus for the wealth business going forward would be utilising technology to improve efficiencies and bring down overhead costs for its advisers.

“We all know customers will not pay $5000 for a financial plan – they will pay $2000, so the question is, how do we get the cost of advice down to that much?” she said.

“I think technology is certainly going to change things – you won’t have customers going to see their local financial planner in George Street as much, instead there will be more consulting done via video conference.

“That’s the way the US advice market has gone so we expect Australia to be the same.”

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