Comm Bank says 'yes we can'

Productivity is more important to banks' market share than ever, and CBA's new advertising campaign shows it may have a clear advantage over its rivals.

The Commonwealth Bank chief executive Ian Narev, in launching the ‘Can’ advertising campaign is not betting his bank – but he is betting that his systems will deliver a level of service and productivity that is superior to his major rivals.

The CEOs of NAB, Westpac, and ANZ need to be concerned because there is clear evidence that Narev is right.

Worse still, banks will have played an important part in the amazing research work undertaken in the Ernst and Young Australian Productivity Pulse survey, which shows that Australian workers waste almost a quarter of their day at work, and that the lack of productivity costs businesses more than $41 billion each year in wages alone (Productivity Spectator: When staff cuts don't measure up, May 28; A third of workers waste a quarter of day, May 27).

That research shows that there are deep problems in Australian management, which has simply not kept up with the game.

The simple fact is that CEOs of too many Australian enterprises have been sitting back and enjoying the fruits of the work done by their predecessors and have not been investing in better productivity systems. Partly as a result of this lack of investment, measured against workers in the US, Australian workers' productivity has slumped.

image


That Morgan Stanley research is telling a similar story to Ernst and Young. The high Australian dollar is exposing this weakness in so many enterprises – and lack of productivity, of course, goes well beyond banks.

But the CBA invested more in its systems than any other bank and when Ian Narev became chief executive he made no secret of the fact that his job was to make the investment of his predecessors work. And the ‘Can’ advertisement campaign is an indication that he now believes those systems will offer better service and better productivity.

Among the other banks, Cameron Clyne at NAB has linked with Oracle to introduce a system that revamps not just the NAB consumer platforms but the entire NAB banking systems. But it is still three to six years' away (Banking on an IT revolution, May 16).

The banks had better get their systems right because smaller banks are using much cheaper techniques to attack specialised parts of the market (The future for banking is cloudy, May 24).

Banking is not going to be the growth industry it was in past decades. That’s why management techniques and investment in systems is so important. And the lesson applies to all.