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BNZ at a different restructuring stage to NAB

BNZ at a different restructuring stage to NAB, CEO Healy says

By Paul McBeth

Nov. 3 (BusinessDesk) - Bank of New Zealand is on a different trajectory to parent National Australia Bank in overhauling its workforce and isn't ready to put a number on the number of jobs affected yet.

Melbourne-based NAB wants to generate annual savings of more than A$1 billion by ramping up automation, adopting new digital technologies, making the business simpler, cutting reliance on third parties and reducing its product range. To achieve that, NAB wants to strip out 6,000 jobs while creating 2,000 new ones, meaning a net reduction of 4,000 staff, or 12 percent of the bank's 33,422 staff of full-time equivalents across the group, including BNZ, as at Sept. 30. That's expected to carry a restructuring bill of A$500 million to A$800 million.

BNZ has already started reshaping its business, trimming its physical branches to 158 from 171 a year earlier and hiking the number of automatic teller machines to 549 from 478. It reversed last year's increase in staff numbers with full-time equivalents dropping to 4,732 as at Sept. 30 from 4,963, and last month said it was in talks with its workforce about the make-up of staff and the skillsets required.

Chief executive Anthony Healy, who moves to a new role with NAB in January, told BusinessDesk the New Zealand business is at a different place to the parent, pointing to a cost-to-income ratio of 40.3 percent compared to a ratio of 50.4 percent in Australia's consumer banking unit and 64.7 percent at the consumer wealth unit, meaning it wouldn't be "perfectly like-for-like", he said.

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"We're undertaking our own transformation programme," Healy said. "We're not putting a number on it here."

BNZ will continue to invest "heavily" in data analytics, artificial intelligence, and other digital technology which will create new roles in more demanding work while reducing the need for workers in more manual areas.

Last month BNZ joined the Intel Saffron Early Adopter Programme to accelerate the use of AI in banking, which Healy said will improve the bank's data analytics and fraud detection. On other technologies, such as blockchain, BNZ will try to leverage the parent's partnership to take advantage of the rapidly evolving space, Healy said.



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