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Morning Coffee: New ANZ CEO to clamp down on Asian costs

ANZ CEO to clamp down on Asian costs

It's a cost clamp

ANZ employees in Singapore and Hong Kong will be relieved that newly appointed CEO-in-waiting Shayne Elliott has immediately announced his commitment to the bank’s Asian operations. But his initial pronouncements about the region also suggest that costs and jobs will be under the microscope.

In a statement yesterday, Elliott said the so-called “super regional” approach pioneered by current CEO Mike Smith, who is stepping down in December, would continue. But he said ANZ’s Asian strategy was “evolving” and the firm would “tweak” aspects of it because of a tougher environment for banks in Asia. “We remain totally committed to the opportunity, but we need to re-address our focus on capital discipline, allocation of resources.”

Credit Suisse analyst Jarrod Martin, quoted in the Australian Financial Review, said: “We would likely expect a greater focus on returns and efficiency within the Asian part of the business.”

It seems clear that costs will come under greater scrutiny when the Elliott regime begins. Might this trigger job cuts? “I expect him to take a look at mid and senior management layers in Asia – ANZ has been hiring quite aggressively in the last few years here, so it could be time to take a step back and readdress the cost of this headcount,” says a recruiter in Singapore.

There is recent precedent for this. Standard Chartered, which like ANZ has also been struggling to keep its Asian costs under control, is reportedly set to trim hundreds of expensive MDs.

Meanwhile:

Asia corporate and investment banking to feel cost pinch in 2015, says new report. (Business Times)

J.P. Morgan makes two major hires in China. (eFinancialNews)

Morgan Stanley shakes up senior management team. (Wall Street Journal)

Is Gary Cohn ready to step in for Lloyd Blankfein? (Wall Street Journal)

Is Citic the Chinese Goldman Sachs? (The Market Mogul)

HSBC whistleblower won’t appear to face espionage charges. (Bloomberg)

The average full-time employee in Hong Kong works 49 hours a week. (HKFP)



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