ANZ’s chief executive has blamed customers for bank branch closures.
Under Shayne Elliott’s watch, the number of ANZ branches in Australia has plummeted 42 per cent, from 678 in 2017 to 391 now.
Of those still operating, 250 are in large cities, compared to 75 in inland areas of the region, 47 in outer region towns, and 19 in remote locations.
Elliott, who was paid $6 million last year, told a parliamentary hearing that customers complained about bank branch closures but then did almost all their transactions online.
“What we’ve found is, and again, I don’t mean to diminish the comments, but a lot of people lament the fact that branches are closing but they don’t actually use them,” he told the House of Representatives economics committee in Canberra on Wednesday.
“And even when we provide workarounds, usage is extraordinarily low because people really like the convenience of being able to do things digitally.”
ANZ’s chief executive has blamed customers for bank branch closures. Under Shayne Elliott’s watch, the number of ANZ branches in Australia has fallen by 42 per cent, from 678 in 2017 to 391 now (pictured leading the House of Representatives finance committee in Canberra)
Elliott, who took over as chief executive in 2016, argued that the closing rate was faster before his leadership, noting that only 35 branches had closed since 2021, as 96 percent of customers were conducting their transactions digitally.
“Only eight percent of our customers only use one branch and don’t have any kind of digital relationship with us,” he said.
‘That’s falling at a rapid rate.
‘Most of them are actually more likely to be small business operators, small businesses have more complex needs than individuals.
“Retail customers are generally pretty well served digitally.”
The Kiwi-born banking veteran argued that a New Zealand experiment, where major banks shared a branch to save costs, had not worked.
He also stressed that most of the branch closures had occurred in city centres, using central Melbourne as an example.
“Most of the lockdown has happened in major cities,” he said.
‘It’s classic Collins Street where we would have had five branches in the past, now we have three.
He also stressed that most of the branch closures had occurred in city centres, using central Melbourne as an example (an ATM in Victoria pictured)
That’s where most of it has been. There have basically been no lockdowns in remote or very remote and regional Australia somewhere in between.
“It’s responding to what customers do.”
Elliott said regional areas were harder to serve, but suggested remote branches could stay open if they operated only in the morning hours.
“Remote cities, part of the country, are difficult to serve in general, whether it’s banks, supermarkets, gas stations or whatever,” he said.
“From a banking perspective, we’re lucky that we generally provide all of those services alternatively, as long as there’s a good internet connection or phone service.”
But he conceded that customers, even if they mainly did their transactions online, were still connected to a physical branch.
“We look at a number of things: yes, we look at foot traffic, we look at the number of customers who will call that branch home, their home branch, and we look at the full value of the relationship we have with them,’ he said.
“Whether they use the branch or now everyone is connected to a branch and we think about the network that supports the branch, the number of conversations that people have, not just transactions or at the counter are clearly very important, but also the general interaction and usage of that branch.
“At some point, it gets to a point where, based on the data, we make a decision to keep it open.”