“Asia is part of our heritage: we’re reshaping, not retreating in the region,” says ANZ HR head

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Jobs at ANZ in Asia are set to become more dynamic and international as the bank focuses on helping larger institutional clients to trade and do business across borders.

ANZ has sold its retail and wealth businesses in a number of Asian markets, allowing it to now concentrate on building up its more profitable institutional operations.

“We’re reinforcing our strong commitment to Asian institutional banking and this is our long-term strategy. We’re in no way retreating from the region,” says Daniel King, GM of HR International at ANZ. “In the highly competitive retail banking space in Asia, banks need scale to stay relevant – and that’s why we made a strategic decision to sell our retail and wealth businesses in certain markets.”

This institutional-focused strategy will mean ANZ is better placed to capitalise on the boom in trading activity “happening right on our doorstep”, says King, pointing out that between 50% and 60% of global GDP is expected to be driven by trade out of Asia by 2050.

“Asia is part of our heritage and so is being a trade bank serving institutional clients. Our aim now is to be the bank of choice for companies wanting to trade across Asia,” says King. “We’re currently transforming the business in Asia and getting it in the right shape to allow us to best support our customers.”

In March this year, ANZ announced it had maintained its position as the number-four corporate bank in Asia for the fifth consecutive year, according to the 2016 Greenwich Associates Large Corporate Banking study.

ANZ’s institutional bank is already strong across several sectors (including resources, agribusiness, financial institutions and infrastructure) and in products such as specialised finance, debt capital markets, syndicated lending, trade finance, FX, and cash management.

“These are the industries and product areas we’ll generally be investing in going forward in Asia. They are where we see the most growth potential from our clients,” says Hong Kong-based King.

In the short term at least, King doesn’t expect a large increase in institutional banking headcount in Asia. “But we’ll be hiring selectively, targeting professionals who are specialists in those core segments.”

New recruits and long-standing staff at ANZ all now have the opportunity to work with multi-national clients, because the firm no longer serves small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Asia.

“We may not have the scale of some of our global competitors or the large bulge brackets, but what we do offer is a high degree of connectivity between different markets. With that, we can open up opportunities for clients across Asia as well as leverage our home-markets advantage,” says King.

“That means that we now want people – from the back office to the front – who are passionate about performing regional jobs and enjoy working in a team-focused culture. If you’re based in Singapore, for example, we’ll incentivise you to drive regional connectivity,” he adds.

While King wouldn’t rule out someone for a job at ANZ because they’ve only worked in one Asian market, his ideal candidate would have “some international exposure”.

ANZ has been promoting people in Asia recently in line with its new institutional focus. “We’ve elevated former SME bankers who we thought could handle multi-national clients, for example. And we’re also moving staff across markets – international mobility is core to our continued success in Asia.”

The bank’s diverse and multi-national client base isn’t the only reason why employees enjoy working for ANZ, however.

“People who join us are often struck by our relationship-based, egalitarian culture and our open communication style, which encourages staff at all levels across the bank to contribute ideas,” says King.

ANZ recently held a three-day global conversation, called ‘ANZ Jam’, with staff across the bank.

“There were many useful ideas that came out of this, but importantly it also set a cultural tone that we want to have a purpose-driven, transparent and flatter organisational culture,” This helps set us apart in Asia, where workplace hierarchies tend to be stronger,” says King.

“We also offer a stable platform and a long history of success in institutional banking in several Asia markets, including Singapore, where ANZ ranks number one for overall relationship quality, according to the 2016 Greenwich Associates survey,” he adds.

King says that ANZ – “even more so than in the past” – wants to recruit and retain people in Asia who fit into its “highly efficient but deeply collaborative” working environment.

“If you’re not aligned to this culture and to our regional strategy, then ANZ isn’t the place for you – even if you’re a high performer,” he says.

But King believes that “huge new opportunities” will open up in the near future for those who do share ANZ’s Asian vision in institutional banking.

“We’re the largest global markets bank in Australia and we’ll be translating these strengths into Asia. About 35% of our Australian institutional revenue is already sourced from Asia and we now have to work on increasing the flow going the other way,” he says.

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