Q&A WITH ANTONIA WATSON – ACTING CEO, ANZ NEW ZEALAND
In this video, we take 5 minutes with Antonia Watson, Acting CEO of ANZ New Zealand at our Investor Day event. We discuss their technology advances, the state of housing in NZ and ANZ's priorities this year. Questions covered include:
- Other than mortgages, where else do you lend?
- What are some tech investments you’re making?
- Given house price declines in Australia, how do you view NZ’s outlook?
- What are some of ANZ’s priorities over the next few years?
- Following the Australian Royal Commission into the banking sector, what changes has ANZ made?
- Can you tell us about your first investing experience?
Craigs: Other than mortgages, where else do you lend?
Antonia: So the three segments that we focus on as a bank are home owners and aspiring home owners, which you mentioned. Business owners – so helping people set up, start, run, grow and exit the business. And trade and capital flows around the region. We have a unique footprint across Asia Pacific for an Australasian bank. And we want to help customers that are trading in the region and moving capital around the region.
Craigs: What are some tech investments you’re making?
Antonia: One really exciting development we have in the tech space is our digital assistant Jamie. She was developed in conjunction with a great New Zealand company called Soul Machines. She’s part of the help function on anz.co.nz if you want to go and talk to her. She started off being able to answer 30 questions about banking. She can now answer 800, so that is cool. Open banking is another interesting one. Our view is very much that it’s coming, it’s the way of the future. People should have control of their own data. The thing for us in New Zealand is to do it to ourselves before it gets done to us. And I think, using it as an opportunity, not as a regulatory deadline that we have to race towards is really important.
Craigs: Given house price declines in Australia, how do you view NZ’s outlook?
Antonia: The New Zealand market I think is different to Australia. What we’re seeing at the moment is quite good, steady growth, outside Auckland, and a bit with Christchurch as well. Auckland has definitely steadied off a little bit. And you’ve seen small reductions in some areas. I think underlying it all though, there’s still a difference in the supply and demand equation than what we’ve seen in Australia. We’re not building hundreds of apartments in downtown Melbourne or Sydney that all need to be filled, and we no longer have foreign investors to fill them. There’s construction absolutely, but it isn’t of that sort of scale, and we’ve still got the demand there. So I think, I hope that we’re in a reasonably good place. But it is a good reason to keep paying down your home loan, right.
Craigs: What are some of ANZ’s priorities over the next few years?
Antonia: So our Group CEO, Shane Elliot announced five priorities as part of the half year profit announcement. The two that really resonate for us in New Zealand probably, are simplification – it’s just important to be a simple bank. There’s a lot of risk involved in banking, there’s a lot of complexity that can be involved in banking. And having simple things that are easy to explain, simple processes, means we’re less likely to make mistakes. And it means it’s easier for us to help our customers because it’s easier to explain things to them. So that’s one thing. And the other one is getting real traction on rectifying mistakes, something along those lines. And that’s something that’s really important to us because we are big, we do have legacy core systems, we do make mistakes sometimes. So finding them. Fixing them quickly, apologising for them and being able to do that fast is really, really important to us.
Craigs: Following the Australian Royal Commission into the banking sector, what changes has ANZ made?
Antonia: Well the thing that I’m really proud to say is, yes we’re making changes but we didn’t start making changes in response to the Australian Royal Commission – or the FMA or RBNZ reviews of our business here. It was a journey we were on, you can see that community expectations of banking have changed. So things like removing sales incentives was well underway before the FMA review was on. And that’s somewhere that New Zealand’s actually gone further than Australia, taking incentives out altogether. And it means you can sit in front of a customer and say, have you got your life insured? You’ve got a home loan and a young family. And I’m saying this to you because I care about your financial wellbeing. You don’t need to worry that I’ve got a target on my back saying I need to ask if you’d like fries with that.
Craigs: Can you tell us about your first investing experience?
Antonia: My first investing experience was in the late 80s – you can imagine how this is going to end. I think I inherited a few little bits and pieces of shares, and my mum might have bought me $400 worth of something. And I had this little portfolio worth $1,500 which became $17,000. And then I sold it for $1,900. So there was a lesson in all sorts of things. There’s a lesson in the substance behind the companies. There was also a lesson in being in it for the long term. I mean, there were some actual failures in that period of time. But usually, if you ride out the market volatility, understanding that if you invest for the long term, that sort of thing tends to come out in the wash.