Angelo Manos: Fit for Purpose

A Big Interview with ANZ's head of commercial broker

Over the past 18 months the banking industry has not only seen tightening availability of credit but also growing competition as fintechs and alternative lenders come into play – along with increased regulation.

The commercial space has not been affected as much as residential in terms of credit, but banks and lenders are still having to find ways to speed up their processes and remain attractive to customers. Even with their bigger cash flows and branding, the major banks know they need to keep up.

Angelo Manos, ANZ general manager of commercial broker, says his bank has had to consider whether its model is fit for purpose given the more dynamic and nimble market it is playing in as more niche lenders come into the space.

A big part of what the emerging fintechs aim to do is to provide faster and simpler ways to access money. Manos admits that sometimes ANZ tends to “overcomplicate” what it does. He makes a comparison to when he buys a new phone.

“If I think about my personal consumer activity – why do I go back to Apple for a new phone every year?” he asks.

“It’s because I know what I’ll get and, mostly, I know how it works. It’s predictable. At the end of the day, banking is a service. Customers want us to provide a solution to their financial needs, so we need to find our element of predictability again.”

“Whether it’s the GFC, the Asian financial crisis or the regulatory reforms we are a part of today, the bottom line is that evolution is unavoidable”

Manos has been in the banking industry globally for more than 24 years, including a number of years as part of ANZ’s specialised business team that works with the health, emerging corporate and property finance sectors, among others.

Towards the end of 2017 he became head of commercial broker, with reponsibility for third party in business banking, small business banking, specialist distribution and asset finance.

With so much experience in the industry, Manos is no stranger to big changes and reforms.

When these obstacles come about, he learns from them.

An unparalleled change

Looking back, Manos says the GFC was an “unforgettable period” for him.

He was living and working in New York at the time. In the build-up, a lot of the banks were opportunistic and ultimately not building sustainable businesses, he says.

“The lesson for me was that in the broking industry it’s not always about having the most aggressive appetite; it’s about having an appetite that’s reflective of where you want to focus, and being responsible for the customer, which provides them options. Customers should be given flexibility.” Putting the customer first is the priority for Manos. After all the challenges he has worked through, he says the organisations that commit to customer-first decision making are the ones that prosper. “What this time taught me was that there will always be challenges in the banking industry,” Manos says.

Whether it’s the GFC, the Asian financial crisis or the regulatory reforms we are a part of today, the bottom line is that evolution is unavoidable and is often a result of customers’ changing expectations and those of the wider community.”

With the banks in the spotlight more than ever over the last year, it has been another time of reflection and learning.

“In the past 12 months, we all experienced unparalleled change, irrespective of whether you were a banker, aggregator or broker,” he says.

Earlier this year ANZ announced a series of initiatives as a result of the royal commission, including around its treatment of small businesses. Manos says the bank is learning a lot about itself, the industry, community expectations and areas in which it needs to improve.

Working with commercial brokers is one area it will focus on.

“ANZ is striving to be the bank of choice for the commercial broker industry,” he says.

It is looking to be a bank that partners with brokers and aggregators, is authentic and honest in how it communicates, and is responsive to feedback and change.

Manos lists two areas in particular in which the bank needs to improve.

The first is to make its processes simpler and faster – he says ANZ needs to improve its methods and processes for taking action. The second is to keep its promises and continue to listen and learn. Manos says not only does ANZ need to be clear on its promises to brokers, customers and the community, but it must deliver on those promises.

The bar has been raised

While the royal commission may be over, Manos expects that the scrutiny of the industry will continue, whether of bankers, brokers or aggregators – but the bar has been raised.

He says customer expectations have changed, and brokers need to focus more on enhanced oversight.

As for ANZ, he says the bank is committed to brokers and that, while the complexity increases, brokers will continue to be a vital cog in the customer and bank relationship.

“We understand the value customers see in guidance from brokers through some of the most significant transactions of their life,” Manos says.

“I see a far more sustainable and professional industry emerging, which is good for those of us looking to grow and strengthen our businesses.”

In order to support the broker channel, ANZ has created webinars and face-to-face training to help brokers expand from residential into the commercial space.

Manos says asset finance is a great introduction to commercial lending and a natural progression from residential.

But before brokers jump into commercial lending they need to be educated – and education is a key factor for both new and experienced brokers, Manos says.

While ANZ’s training sessions are still in their early days, there have been more than 2,000 brokers involved so far.

At a day-to-day level, ANZ’s residential and commercial BDMs sit side by side nationally, allowing brokers a seamless transition from one side of lending to the other.