ANZ doesn’t make as much noise in the market as some of its major bank rivals, but Meg Bonighton says results are what counts.
MPA: ANZ has consistently ranked highly in MPA’s Brokers on Banks surveys. What do you think has led to the success the bank has had in the third party channel?
MB: I think it really comes down to two main things. The first is making sure we’re consistently delivering on what the broker is looking for at the core, and that’s consistent delivery to their clients. It’s fast turnaround times, clarity of policy and on-time settlements. It doesn’t sound all that sexy, but it’s making sure we can deliver consistently. We’ve had record volumes coming through over the last year, and I think brokers fully expected us to fall over on the service side. Brokers I’ve spoken to were pleasantly surprised to find we stood up and were able to take those volumes in. The second piece is really around relationships. We treat brokers as partners. It’s never been an ‘us versus them’ attitude. It’s always been about how to work together to make sure we’re delivering for their clients. We also make sure we’re always seeking feedback from brokers, and when we get that feedback it helps is to deliver those foundational pieces. The other core is our BDMs. I’ve very proud of the BDM team we have onboard. They’re people who’ve been with the team for some time, so we definitely don’t have a group of fly-by-nighters. We talk a lot about the fact that this is a relationship role. It’s not one you come into for a short period of time for your own development. The way to be successful is to develop successful relationships. We have a number of different communication methods, but what we find is our BDMs bring those communications to life, because they know the core values of the brokers they work with, so they know which messages are crucial.
MPA: Does most of this communication happen on the ground? It seems like ANZ has been a bit quieter in the press than many of its rivals.
MB: We do tend to take a little bit more humble approach. It may not sound so humble saying that, which is a bit ironic, but we tend to take more of a ‘look at the scoreboard’ approach. Rather than talking about what we’re going to do and what we’re going to deliver, we’re rather be judged by what we’ve actually delivered. We’ve done a whole raft of work around the service side in the last couple of years. Rather than go out and talk about it before we do it or while we’re in the midst of it, we’d rather have brokers come to us and say we’ve delivered on it.
MPA: What are some of the main challenges you see facing the broking industry at the moment?
MB: The challenge we’re all facing is the slowdown in credit growth. For all of us, in terms of the opportunities out there, we need to be looking harder and working harder. I don’t think it’s about a dramatic change to the way we do things. The most successful broking businesses I’ve seen are the ones who are very clear on their value proposition and deliver on that proposition.
MPA: Has ANZ identified any specific opportunities arising from the slowdown in credit growth?
MB: The thing I love about the broker industry is you have thousands of folks looking at different opportunities, so I can’t say that there’s one specific opportunity we’ve uncovered that brokers haven’t. But one thing we can look at in a world where credit growth is less strong is customer segmentation. For us being a super-regional bank, one of the key things we look at is the international customer segment, whether they be new arrivals to Australia or offshore customers. That fits well in our value proposition as a whole, and we have the super-regional culture to make sure we can deliver on that from a service perspective. It’s something we kicked off in a pilot program a few months ago, and we’ve been working with brokers to make sure we deliver around the service piece. We also continue to look at things like credit policy improvement. I know brokers understand that banks need to set their own risk appetite, but it is beholden upon us to make sure we’re clear and transparent in terms of what that appetite is.
MPA: What kind of priorities has ANZ set for the year ahead in terms of its relationship with the third party?
MB: Given the solid foundation that we have in terms of our relationship with the broker channel, we’ll be working on what we can do to help deliver to the professional development in the industry. We’ve taken a few steps on that in the last year, running our business leaders workshops. Those have been really well received by those in attendance, or who viewed it via the webinars. We’ll be looking at how we can build on that foundation. That’s really all about the fact that, being one of the core players recognising the value of this channel, we need to look at what else we can bring to the channel in terms of the relationship we have with brokers. The other piece is our comms. We’re working through how we can get more clarity in terms of our comms. You’ll see a few things around that in the next three to four months, which is very exciting. We’ll also work on particular customer segments like the international banking segment, and we’ll be working with the broker channel to see how we can deliver that well.