​ANZ cuts nearly 5k staff as FY18 profit plateaus at AU$6.4b

Shrinking its workforce down to just under 38,000, the bank reported almost no change in profit from FY17.

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has released its financial results for the 2018 financial year, producing AU$6.4 billion in statutory after-tax profit, roughly AU$6 million less than that reported in 2017.

Operating income for the 12-month period was AU$19.8 billion and cash profit came in at AU$5.8 billion. The bank's Australian business provided AU$9.7 billion of total revenue, and AU$3.9 billion of cash profit; its New Zealand entity accounted for AU$3.6 billion in revenue and AU$1.6 billion in cash profit; while Institutional provided revenue of AU$5.1 billion, and cash profit of AU$1.7 billion.

During the year, the bank reduced its workforce by 4,972, with the total employees numbering 39,924. Of that number, 37,860 were counted as full-time. The staff cuts were spread across the organisation.

ANZ said its focus in 2018 was to build a "superior everyday experience for customers and our people to compete in the digital age". The bank rolled out "New Ways of Working" to its Australia and technology divisions, with the bank reporting more than 9,000 people across both internal and managed services resources are now working in agile teams.

The bank copped a restructuring charge of AU$104 million, reporting this was largely relating to the agile shift.

The 2018 financial year saw ANZ decommission 90 products and 264 applications.

It reported a decrease in its capitalised software balance from AU$2.9 billion in 2015 to AU$1.4 billion by the end of the reported period.

In February, the bank introduced a new ANZ app, combining goMoney and Grow into a new unified mobile banking application.

It delivered new capabilities through ANZID -- voice ID, electronic verification for customers, Shield for business bank customers, credentials recovery; and boasted high digital self service adoption rates and digital sales, with 3.5m digitally active customers.

The bank also piloted "Collab Zone", which is touted as an online community for business owners.

In a bid to improve digital channels, ANZ opened 33 digital branches during the year, boosting its total to 114. Its physical branches were reduced to 629.

ANZ said digital accounted for 25 percent of all retail sales, and it also boasts 3.5 million digitally active customers. More than 64 million mobile transactions were also completed during the year.

Announced last month, customers of the bank can now use their smartphone to withdraw cash from a few thousand ANZ ATMs, in lieu of plastic cards.

The cash withdrawal function can be accessed at 2,400 of the bank's ATMs through Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, Gamin Pay, and Fitbit Pay.

ANZ was the first bank in Australia to launch Apple Pay, and remains the only member of the big four to offer the wallet from the iPhone-maker.

In total, ANZ offers six payment alternatives to a physical card, with Fitbit Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, and most recently Garmin Pay, available in addition to Apple Pay and its own ANZ Mobile Pay platform.

The bank counted 64.2 million wallet transactions during FY18.

ANZ said it rolled out Australia's New Payments Platform to 3 million small, medium, and institutional customers.

In New Zealand, ANZ introduced Jamie, a digital assistant on help.anz.co.nz to assist customers with over 40 common help questions.

"While digital banking is increasingly popular, customers still want to talk to our staff about more complex transactions, such as getting a home loan or KiwiSaver," ANZ New Zealand CEO David Hisco said.

"In a first for banking in New Zealand, ANZ New Zealand this year introduced a new digital assistant, Jamie, who had nearly 12,000 conversations with customers, helping them with their most commonly asked banking questions."

The bank also launched Google Pay and FastPay 3, which gives New Zealand small business customers contactless payment capability.

"Getting the right balance between technologies that are convenient and still presenting a human face is the challenge for all retailers and banking is no different," Hisco said on Wednesday.