TECHNOLOGY SPECTATOR: Raising ANZ’s tech stakes

Mike Smith needs to ensure that ANZ's latest round of cost-cutting doesn’t dent its tech strategy, given the lender is already behind its nimbler peers.

Technology Spectator

The news that one in 25 bank workers could lose their jobs in Australia this year has taken the spotlight away from last week’s ANZ news of 700 job cuts.

But put that against the Reuters estimate that banks across the world will slash 125,000 jobs and it gives you a sense of the challenge facing banks with global ambitions.

In 2007, ANZ boss Mike Smith set a target of having the Asia, Pacific, Europe and America division delivering 20 per  cent of earnings by 2012. Last year it was more like 15 per cent, and while Smith has given himself the full year to reach his goal, he’s also moved the goal posts, with a new target to increase Asia-Pacific's contribution to group profit to 25-30 per cent by 2017.

ANZ missed out on a couple of Asian acquisitions last year, including Korea’s Exchange Bank. It didn’t fit with the story analysts love to hear – of the well-capitalised Australian bank cashing in on the fire-sales of its struggling international peers.

However,  Smith now has a much bigger issue on his hands – cost. And for every struggling peer in Europe, there’s a rapidly growing, faster-moving bank with a stronger appetite for risk in Asia.

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