Robotics and machine learning help ANZ post AU$3.17b profit for first half

In adopting such technologies, ANZ said it has reduced turnaround times by up to 40% in trade, credit, and customer service.

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Image: Asha McLean/ZDNet

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has released its first half financial results, with after-tax profit dropping 5% year over year to AU$3.17 billion.

Cash profit was AU$3.56 billion, up 2% compared to the same period a year prior. The bank's Australian division posted AU$1.8 billion in cash profit, its institutional segment made AU$1 billion in cash profit, and its New Zealand business made the bank AU$782 million in cash profit.

Total revenue was AU$4.8 billion.

In announcing its results, the blue bank told shareholders highlights from the six month period included the improvements it made in automation in its institutional business, through robotics and machine learning.

Adopting such technologies, ANZ said it has reduced turnaround times by up to 40% in trade, credit, and customer service.

During the six month period, ANZ also finalised the roll-out of its New Ways of Working to its Australia and technology divisions within the bank, with 9,000 of its staff now working in "agile" teams.

ANZ had in September announced it was partnering with Atlassian as it continued its push into agile.

"We are already well into our agile transformation at ANZ, and working closely with Atlassian will help accelerate our progress in continuing to turn a 180-year-old organisation into a workplace for the digital economy," ANZ group executive technology Gerard Florian said previously.

"Atlassian has a reputation for developing and delivering world-class software solutions, but also a different way of thinking about agile-based work, so this relationship is about more than great software for us."

The bank revealed in May 2017 that it would adopt the methods used by tech giants Google and Spotify in a bid to quickly respond to changing customer expectations, engage and empower staff, and improve efficiency within the bank.

Meanwhile, during the half-year, ANZ's software balance reduced by 4% to AU$1.4 billion and the bank said it transferred two million customers to "contemporary" platforms.

The bank also claimed it had processed more than 88 million transactions in the last 12 months via its digital wallet, with total customer spend up 114% in that same period.

In announcing his bank's results, CEO Shayne Elliott said investments are being made in technology to prepare ANZ for the future, with the bank saying it has prepared well for an increasingly difficult environment.

"We're right in the middle -- or maybe we're only at the beginning -- of this huge transformation happening in our industry. Now, mostly we talk about technology and data and all of those things but the reality is customer expectations are rising, regulatory scrutiny is increasing, there's just going to be a whole new range of competitors -- some of them are setting up as we speak -- and we've got to get ready for that," he said.

It was revealed during the bank's FY18 results in October that during the year ANZ had 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.

For the 2018 financial year, ANZ produced AU$6.4 billion in statutory after-tax profit, roughly AU$6 million less than that reported in 2017.

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