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The customer at the centre

A business can only stay relevant if it keeps the customer at the centre of its thinking. That’s particularly critical in transaction banking (TB), which contains some of closest relationships with banks in the financial service sector.

InDepth is a new series from ANZ Institutional in which ANZ experts dive deep into their areas of expertise in one-on-one conversations with each other. In this edition we hear from Lisa Vasic, the recently appointed Managing Director, Transaction Banking, and Mark Evans, Head of Strategic Planning & Execution at ANZ Institutional and previous head of TB. Below is an edited version of that conversion.

Vasic and Evans spoke about transaction banking, the rapidly changing nature of technology, and how data helps ANZ help its customers do business. They started by talking about the role transaction banking plays at ANZ – and where the client sits in that process.

LV: From a customer perspective, transaction banking is an area where ANZ’s role is to be really close with our customers.

To operate effectively we need to understand what's happening in our customer operating environments, how they are managing their working capital, how they are managing their cash flow, how they hang together their systems, and how they are managing their payables, receivables, and liquidity.

When you think about the global financial crisis and the crisis we're currently experiencing, the elements of operational excellence are really different between customers that thrive, customers that survive and customers that don't.

The role we play is to help our customers navigate these times and ensure they've got access to capabilities that support their businesses - including using technology to support the way they operate.  

At ANZ, we started out as a trade bank - that’s always been part of our DNA. That culture of supporting cross-border flows has been part of ANZ from day dot and transaction banking is really where a lot of that is actually harnessed.

This gives us the capability to put our customers in a strong position, to help them on the pathway to digitisation and, where possible, automate their business processes including improving their straight-through processing.

We’re also conscious of the future of transaction banking. As open banking approaches in Australia, ANZ’s experience with data means we're in a unique place to help customers use their information to make informed decisions in the way they manage their business. These data-driven insights may help them solve problems or provide new windows for them to adapt their services to meet market requirements.

ME:  I really like the way you put that, Lisa. We sit at the very core of what our customers do on a day to day basis. Most of our customers don't get out of bed every day thinking about making a payment or downloading a statement. They just want that to happen. They've got businesses to run. They've got their own customers.

From a transaction banking perspective, we don't provide simple products. We really sit with the customer, chat about what they do, make it easy for them to do what they need to do, and try to do all that seamlessly.

We're almost invisible to them. And when they do see us, it's when they want to see us. They’re not calling us because, they haven't received a statement - they're calling it because they know they can trust us.

They want to better manage their working capital needs, optimise their cash allocations or interest payments, or facilitate cross-border payments that meet compliance standards.

It's quite a unique and complicated sort of relationship. It's a bunch of solutions with a bunch of experts trying to help the customers succeed.

LV: We see data as an important part of that proposition. At ANZ we’ve been working for some time to look at our customer data, figure out what they need and design a way to deliver it in a way that can help them manage their business better.

The most important thing - and I think this is something ANZ does really well - is to be relevant, you have to understand your customer first.

The approach we have with our relationship managers and our product partners is we understand our client businesses, we understand their priorities, their challenges, and what they’re trying to achieve.

That's when we have opportunity to pull different data sets together to support their decision making. We have data scientists that help pull that together to give us some serious grunt in terms of the way that we can provide opportunities and different datasets to our customer.

I will say that with every new tool comes responsibility. One of the things I know we've spent a lot of time on at ANZ is working through the right governance structure, and recognising the sensitivities around data.

How do we make sure that we've got the right controls around it? It could well be that it's new and it's exciting but it also comes with significant responsibility.

What we are doing at ANZ as we look to evolve our capability is not just thinking about the fun things that we can do with data but also how to make sure we’re compliant. How are we doing it safely and securely? We need to make sure at all times we're protecting the trust our customers have in our systems.

ME: I couldn't agree with you more. I think the one other point I'd add is while we're exploring how we use data more broadly to deliver solutions and manage risk, we're also using it to effectively modernise our capability by removing a lot of the bureaucracy inherent in financial institutions.

And we're investing heavily in trying to leverage emerging digital capabilities so our customers can directly deal with us and likewise, we can integrate them into our customer payments and data systems as well, removing a lot of keystrokes and paper filing from the process.

Wherever possible, we're trying to use the voice of the customer to streamline our back office processes, and really make ANZ simpler to deal with.

ANZ has brought in some high-profile external talent around data as we try to get that customer experience right, with Maile Carnegie, Group Executive, Digital and Australia Transformation, and Gerard Florian, Group Executive, Technology, both in important data-related roles.

Additionally, the recent appointment of Emma Gray as Group Executive, Data and Automation was a really clear message from the ANZ board on the importance of data to the bank. If there was any doubt about our commitment, that’s now gone.

Shane White is Content Manager at ANZ

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