As AGM season grinds on, ANZ comes out on top.
The ANZ AGM was sandwiched between Westpac’s, which was more war of attrition than AGM, and NAB’s, which came immediately after ASIC dropped a litigation bomb on the bank.
Compared to those two, ANZ got off practically scot-free, owning up to its problems in the aftermath of the Hayne commission and avoiding a second strike on its reduced remuneration report.
“At ANZ, we are paying customers back as fast as we can and acting on the commission’s recommendations,” CEO Shayne Elliott told shareholders.
“For retail and commercial banking in Australia, we currently estimate that over 3.4 million bank accounts need fixing. To date, we’ve made good on more than one million of these bank accounts. While each issue is unique, on average we have refunded these customers around $60 each.”
It’s not exactly a fantastic showing, but it’s a lot better than that of Lindsay Maxsted, who told Westpac’s AGM that he still didn’t know how it breached money laundering legislation 23 million times. Mr Elliott seized on that opportunity.
“There has also been considerable shareholder interest in the role banks play in the prevention of financial crime,” Mr Elliott said.
“We take this role incredibly seriously and have been proactively reviewing the systems and processes we use to transfer money to ensure we are reporting the information required by our regulators.
“I can confirm to shareholders today that while this review remains ongoing, we have not identified any material issues. We are also not aware of any impending litigation from AUSTRAC.”
Of course, it couldn’t all be roses. This year, ANZ opted to reduce franking of its 80 cent dividend to 70 per cent.
“Your board recognises how important the dividend, its franking and its predictability is to many shareholders,” chairman David Gonski said.
“The decision to reduce franking to a new base for now was difficult but appropriate given the changing mix of our new business.”
Mr Elliott also touched on remuneration, saying that variable rewards are now a smaller part of employees’ take-home pay and that the reduced bonuses are determined by overall bank performance.
“This is not about paying our people less,” Mr Elliott said.
“It is an industry-leading initiative that will positively enhance our culture and become an important point of differentiation.”
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