ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott said the bank has undergone a significant restructure of its business model during a difficult time, which included catering for “higher remediation costs” to customers.

Speaking at an investor briefing to announce the results, Elliott acknowledged that while the industry had benefited from thirty years of “stable, high-return growth”, banking practices had impacted clients.

“We have two choices,” Elliott continued, “We can assume the world will return back to the way it was or make real changes.”

The first choice, he said, would be a “fundamental misreading of the environment”.

Elliott said the bank needed to do better by its clients and a “single governance model” has become “no longer optimal”.

He explained that the bank – the first of the big four to announce its half-yearly results this week – had turned the corner, having contacted over 275,000 customers “to help them get better value from their banking”.

The bank has allocated or paid $928 million ($657 million post-tax) in remediation charges since 2017, according to the results presentation, with a $175 million charge ($123 million post-tax) in 1H19.

It has also responded to the royal commission findings with 16 initiatives to improve the treatment of its customers, four of which Elliott said were already completed.

In a statement, ANZ highlighted that remediation payments to retail and commercial customers in Australia are being made faster. “In some cases cutting time to make first customer payment by more than 50 per cent,” the statement read.

“The royal commission and planned law changes are having a profound effect on Australia, and not just the financial industry,” he said, before stating that the effect will extend to “a complete rethink of business’s role”.

After detailing some of the bank’s headline half-year figures – including a five percent decrease in statutory profit to $3.17 billion and five per cent less full-time staff compared to the same period last year – Elliott acknowledged the downbeat nature of the briefing.

“In our rehearsal for this event I was told my speech was too sombre and downbeat,” he revealed. “That was not my intention.

Elliott also highlighted slowing home-loan demand and a “tough retail banking environment” as being behind the results. Tight market conditions will see this environment continue, he warned.

“Retail banking in Australia will remain under pressure for the foreseeable future with subdued credit growth, intense competition and increased compliance costs impacting earnings.”

The results didn’t stop ANZ from delivering an 80 cent-per share dividend – the same as last year. “This equates to $2.27 billion to be paid to shareholders,” the release stated.

Tahn Sharpe is a Sydney-based financial services journalist with a background in financial planning. He writes on advice, superannuation, investment, banking and insurance issues, is a certified SMSF Adviser and holds an Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning.
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