SINGAPORE – Australia’s recent tensions with China have led more companies to consider diversifying into other parts of Asia – rather than focusing on China alone, said Australia and New Zealand Banking Group CEO Shayne Elliott.
ANZ – one of Australia’s biggest banks – has spoken with companies in Australia and New Zealand about opportunities in Asia, he told CNBC’s Will Koulouris on Thursday.
“One of our messages is: Asia is not just China. There is a big difference between opportunities in Japan, or Korea, or Singapore, or the Philippines or India, and we want to introduce people to that,” said Elliott.
Tensions between China and Australia have increased in recent months, after Canberra called for a global investigation into the origins of the coronavirus. The action angered Beijing, who was imposes trade restrictions on Australian imports.
Elliott said the latest developments have opened people’s minds to think more about their strategy in Asia.
“There are some good things about the issue recently. Geopolitically, it is opening people’s minds to be a little wiser about multiple strategies in Asia, than just you know, choosing one place to do business,” he told CNBC.
The CEO spoke with CNBC after release of the bank’s full year results, which reported full-year cash profit fell 42% to 3.76 billion Australian dollars. That’s better than the $ 3.51 billion Australian estimate, according to a Reuters poll.
Banks were under pressure as the Australian economy experienced its first recession in 30 years amid the coronavirus pandemic, and interest rates were at record lows.
When asked when revenues will get back on track, Elliot said the banking industry faces “some kind of crisis, fairly regularly” every 7 to 10 years.
“What they really mean is that you suddenly get this shock to our system and customers, whether they are mom and dad, small business, big business, suddenly have all the new needs they didn’t have before … This is actually time is full of opportunity, “he said.
He added: “So I didn’t know that anything would return to normal, I didn’t know that ANZ would ever look what it used to be.”
What will it look like, says Elliott, will be a focus on more digital, data-driven and sustainable finance initiatives.
“That’s what we really have to learn – investing in satisfying those customer needs, which is going to be very, very different,” he said.
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