ANZ spends AU$65m on startups and posts AU$6b in full-year profit

The bank has thanked its 'agile' approach to working for its ability to respond quickly to changes.

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Corporation (ANZ) has reported its financial results for 2019, with the blue bank posting AU$5.9 billion in after-tax profit -- down 7% from last year.

For the full year ended 30 September 2019, the bank's Australian operations returned AU$3.6 billion in cash profit, on revenue of AU$9.6 billion, a 6% drop from 2018.

It ended the year with 8.7 million total retail, commercial, and institutional customers.

The bank migrated more than 60,000 users onto a new institutional customer self-service platform during the 12-month period, which has centralised access to all transaction accounts, payments, and foreign exchange information.

ANZ's investment spend increased AU$185 million as a result of targeting improvements to customer experience and origination systems, its financial results said. This was accompanied by the need to meet increased regulatory and compliance obligations.

Meanwhile, the bank's new ventures arm, ANZi, invested around AU$65 million in emerging growth companies that it said could help create "long-term strategic value".

During the year, ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott said his bank dealt with the consequences from the findings made during the Banking Royal Commission, which he said has had a "real impact" in terms of what ANZ is focused on.

"This year we've seen a really significant increase in the investment we have around ... putting things right. The sad reality is that we have a lot of things to fix up, not just from the Royal Commission but in terms of ongoing remediations. That takes a lot of our very bright people, takes a lot of money and technology resource," he said.

"I'm really pleased with where we are today in terms of business momentum in Australia. We're getting our, sort of mojo back there, if you will, out in the marketplace."

Following the Royal Commission, ANZ agreed to 16 actions handed down by the review. It also dismissed 151 employees for breaches of the bank's Code of Conduct. A further 516 employees received a formal disciplinary outcome.

30 current or former senior executives also received a "consequence" in 2019 for code of conduct breaches or findings of accountability for a material event, or otherwise left the bank after an investigation was initiated, ANZ said.

ANZ has been operating in an "agile" way for a few years now, with the program of work known as "New Ways of Working". In reporting the bank's results, Elliott said that approach has helped the changes the organisation has needed to make.

"There's a lot of stuff written about this, but what's it essentially about? It's essentially about breaking down work into bite size chunks and being really agile," he said, in attempt to explain what agile actually means.

"Making sure that when things happen in your business, when customers change their behaviour, or when we see things changing from regulators or the environment, that we're able to quickly respond."

According to Elliott, it's a different mindset.

"It's been enormously valuable to ANZ. I think part of the reason we've been able to get back on the front foot in terms of our home loan business in particular, was absolutely due to the agile approach that we had. So I think it's been an enormous benefit," he continued

Under the banner of customer remediation, the bank listed an additional charge of AU$559 million as a result of an increase in "provisions for remediation work", taking the total charge to AU$1.2 billion since the figure was published in the bank's first-half results.

"ANZ recognises the impact this has on both customers and shareholders. We are taking a proactive approach and are conducting detailed reviews across the group. There are more than 1,000 people working on remediation. We returned more than AU$100 million to impacted customers this financial year," the bank wrote in its results.

Total investment spend was listed as AU$1.4 billion; while its capitalised software balance sat at AU$1.3 billion -- down from the AU$2.9 billion reported in September 2015.

Meanwhile, the bank's New Zealand operations returned a full-year after-tax profit of NZ$1.8 billion -- an 8% drop from the 2018 financial year.

The country's business reported cash NPAT of NZ$1.9 million, up 2% on the previous year, mostly thanks to the sales of life insurance company OnePath Life Limited and ANZ New Zealand's 25% share in Paymark Limited.

"Our focus on digitisation and efficiencies means we have cut fees on a range of products, services, and interest rates this year, passing on more than AU$20 million in savings to customers," ANZ New Zealand Acting CEO Antonia Watson said.

One million customers now use ANZ goMoney, the company's mobile banking app.

For the first-half of 2019, ANZ reported AU$3.17 billion in after-tax profit, on revenue of AU$4.8 billion.

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