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Walking the talk through the crisis

Before the crisis, banks and businesses alike were falling over themselves to profess commitment to their partners in good times and in bad. Then the bad times hit – in a real way – and the market got a clear look at where everyone stood.

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 incoming MD, Institutional Australia Tammy Medard and outgoing MD, Institutional Australia Graham Turley. Below is an edited version of that conversion.

Medard and Turley spoke about how customer relationships evolved through the crisis and how business has adapted. They started by addressing the biggest current trends as the market moves slowly into recovery.

TM: You know what? There's not really anything new happening. What I'm seeing is a greater focus on the trends we were already seeing.

An example of that is data. Most customers were already thinking about how they could use data better, and how they could use innovative ways to connect with their clients or with their supply chains.

Now we're seeing that really amplified, and years of planning and progress being executed in a matter of months, because the need and demand is there.

The second thing we're seeing is a focus on sustainability - and not just the environmental side of sustainability.

I'm talking about the social side of sustainability. Things like, how do we make things more equal and fair? How do we see working from home, as bit of a leveller for, in particular, the female workforce?

The last thing I think is a focus on supply chains and sustainable supply chains. Again, not just from an environment perspective, but from a resilience perspective.

We've seen the China-plus-one model applied over the last decade and I think we're going to see that amplified, alongside an increased focus on making sure supply chains are diverse, and perhaps in some cases a little closer to home.

GT: One thing that struck me as well is how creative our customers have been amid a shift in consumer behaviour and restrictions on how we work. How are you seeing customers respond?

TM:  I don't think I can pick a single customer who hasn't had to adapt in the current environment.

Some of our clients are really on the front foot, thinking about social distancing and looking at other markets and how they are coping.

What I've really been impressed by is the adaptation of business models. In many markets, suddenly there's a bigger demand for things there has never been before. One of my favourites is home delivery and how we've seen some restaurants really adapt to that.

GT: I think it's been it's been really interesting. Across the past six months, I think we've all seen a lot of change.

At ANZ, our customer relationships - even though we haven't seen people face to face – are actually deeper. As a bank, I think we've stood up for our customers through this time. And we've had fantastic discussions with them.

What's really been really fantastic is customers have come to us, been really transparent, and told us about what they're doing in their business. Everyone has adapted really well.

Nobody's missed a beat. You talk to all of our customers and their businesses, they’ve changed overnight, and they keep going. And it's been fantastic.

You pointed out the data and the tech. We're all buying online. We’re adapting really, really quickly. It’s a pretty interesting time, to be really honest.

Even from an ANZ perspective, the bank has had to run itself - while maintaining our regulatory compliance and operational risk , which is actually really complex – in completely decentralised way. That’s a significant shift in a very short period of time.

TM:  I agree, particularly that part about  relationships. At ANZ, in our institutional business, we are a relationship bank. We always talk to our customers that way. And this has been a real opportunity for us to walk the talk.

And I think those relationships have deepened more in the past six months than they would have in the past six years. And that's been something really special.

I think we're all in this together and trying to figure out how we work together as true partners with our clients to help them get through this. And I look forward to continuing to work this way because it's not over yet. We still have a rough road ahead.

Graham, I notice you're quite passionate when you talk about relationships. How are you feeling? It's only a few days left before you're a free man.

GT:  There's a feeling of, I guess, happiness. I'm happy to say, look, I'm going to move on and try some different things - but a lot of sadness because I’m leaving things behind.

You just talked about customers and partnerships. For me, that's what banking is all about. You know, how do we be innovative? How do we come up with solutions for customers?

I’d like to thank our customers that made it all possible, actually, because our business doesn't work without them. Your job, Tammy, is to make sure we never forget that!

TM: Thanks Graham. You’ve been a fantastic leader and your customer-first ethos is something  I know our customers appreciate, but staff also appreciate because it allows us to make the best decisions for our customers.

It's never been 'bank first' for us, always 'customer first'. And that's something I'll definitely be taking through.

Do you have any words about the future?

GT: It’s unknown. But we’ve had crises before. People will adapt.

There may be some losers as we go through an adjustment period. But opportunity is going to come out of the crisis for lots of people.

There world will change, there’s no question, but that will create more opportunities as well.  I just think instead of trying to have a crystal ball, we need to be ready to embrace those challenges as they come along.  

TM: I’m similarly positive. All the critical innovation in the past has come because of need and because of demand. And I think right now in our society there is a huge a need and demand to do things differently.

Shane White is Content Manager at ANZ

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