The shake-up at the top of Australian banking looks complete after ANZ picked Shayne Elliott to replace Mike Smith as chief executive.
Westpac and NAB both appointed new CEOs in the past 14 months and ANZ revealed on Thursday that it has decided to promote its chief financial officer to the top job from January 1.
Mr Smith’s exit had long been expected and Mr Elliott said his job would be to capitalise on his predecessor’s work in establishing ANZ as the most Asia-centric of Australia’s big four.
The 51-year-old New Zealander, who said his Australian passport is in the works, said Mr Smith had assembled the building blocks in terms of the right products and a presence in the right countries.
“Mike’s always spoken about being the most respected and the best connected and that’s how we’re going to monetise it, getting that connectivity right,” said Mr Elliott, who takes on the role against a backdrop of slowing growth in China and stricter capital regulation at home.
“It means investing and ensuring our customers get a seamless experience whether they’re in Taiwan, whether they’re in Wellington, whether they’re in Perth or in the Philippines; that they get to experience those great insights we have into those markets, know what’s going on, know first and not just read it in the newspapers.”
Chairman David Gonski said Mr Smith had made ANZ Australia’s only international bank with a focus on Asia Pacific, a position that Morningstar analyst David Ellis believes will pay off long term.
“The greater Asia region – and India eventually – is obviously going to be the centre of the global economy and ANZ is well placed,” Mr Ellis told AAP.
“They’re up against global banks in that market but they’re certainly in a good position to leverage their current representation in the region.
“I think we’ll be looking back in 10 years’ time and see that was a good strategy.”
Mr Smith will become a non-executive adviser to the board for an initial period of one year.
Mr Ellis welcomed the appointment of Mr Elliott, whose $2.1 million basic salary is almost 70 per cent higher than Mr Smith’s $1.25 million.
“He knows the business inside out, he seems to be a down-to-earth person and realistic and doesn’t seem to be a `salesman’,” Mr Ellis said.
“He seems to be quite open and prepared to deal with issues openly and I think he’ll do a good job.”
Mr Gonski said ANZ had been discussing a new chief executive for 15 months and that Mr Smith had fulfilled a pledge to stay on to facilitate a smooth transition.
“This is not a hasty move,” Mr Gonski told an investors’ conference call.
High-profile figures including ASX chief Elmer Funke Kupper had been linked to the position by various media but Mr Gonski called Mr Elliott, a former investment banker, the outstanding candidate.
“Shayne’s international banking and financial experience, together with his background in Australia and New Zealand, makes him the right person,” Mr Gonski said
ANZ shares closed 44 cents higher at $27.52.