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ANZ 're-imagines' its financial planning offering

Dealer groups will struggle to make a profit if they do not digitise manual processes and take advantage of new video-based technologies, according to ANZ's managing director, Wealth Australia, Alexis George.

Speaking on Friday, Ms George told a media roundtable that the bank was "re-imagining" its financial planning offering by unifying its banking and advice operations and looking at the cost-effectiveness of financial planning.

"If you look at dealer groups, there is not too many of them that are making a profit, and in the future they need to change...they need to wipe their face, I believe," she said.

"Technology is a big part of that because you look at the way an adviser goes about doing a plan and it's quite paper-intensive – there are manual processes everywhere and where we need spend money is digitising the process and making sure it's consistent, otherwise you end up with regulatory issues."

Also speaking at the roundtable, ANZ Group chief executive Shayne Elliott said that lack of digitisation meant looking for "exceptions" was much harder.

"It's hard because none of the banks have digitised everything and a lot of it is going through boxes," he said. "Things are pretty good at that, to be fair. We've been good at files and knowing where they are. Unfortunately it's a massive amount of man hours."

Ms George said advisers must make use of technologies such as video planning sessions and smartphones if they want to keep their head above water.


"We all know customers are not going to pay $4,500 to $5,000 dollars for a plan except at the very high level," she said. "We know they're prepared to pay less than $2,000, so how do we get that experience to be less than $2000?"

Mr Elliott said the  alignment of banking and wealth announced that was announced earlier this year, was essential but that it would also be a challenging process.

"Wealth is pretty complicated: there is a lot of legacy in there because it's a business that ANZ has built, bought and acquired over many years and cobbled together. There is lots of work to do to reach that vision of it being simple – and it's not easy but that's the path we're on," he said.

"We have brought wealth much closer and right to the heart of ANZ. We created a separation about four years ago when we created the wealth division. That was for a good reason: to give it more focus and attention to get the clean-up going properly and Joyce [Joyce Phillips, former group executive, wealth marketing and innovation at ANZ] did a really good job on that front.

"But now it's time to bring it back into the fold and to make sure it's really closely aligned with our retail business. It's the same customers and we need to make that relationship even closer."

Ms George echoed these views: "We're not competing with the bank for customers... and we're re-engaging with our large family of financial planners," she said.

Last week ANZ reported that its half-year profits dipped by more than 20 per cent, following a restructure that was implemented to ensure the bank is "future ready".

In a statement, ANZ said its statutory profit after tax was $2.7 billion for the half-year ending on 31 March 2016, down 22 per cent from the previous corresponding period.

ANZ announced in March that it would restructure its wealth management business, with changes that included the departure of group executive for wealth, Joyce Phillips.

The bank said the move is designed to "simplify" its approach to wealth management and align its wealth products and services with its retail and commercial business.

Mr Elliott later rejected notions that the change came because the bank's wealth division had fallen in value, saying that industry regulation and increased compliance obligations are part of what led to the restructure.