COVID -19 has clearly changed the way we live, work and do business. While most businesses within the banking and finance industry have had to quickly pivot and adapt the way they work, this new way of operating doesn’t cancel out the need to train and upskill your employees, especially if you’re in the midst of rapid change as an organisation.
Such has been the case for ANZ, which has, along with all banks and lenders, recently accelerated its adoption of digitisation within its operations.
From rolling out changes to verification of identity procedures to suit the social distancing environment, to creating a framework for a huge number of staff to work from home, ANZ has been at the forefront of change and innovation, says Simone Tilley, ANZ’s general manager retail broker.
“One of the things we wanted to be proud of when reflecting on this period of isolation was how swiftly our national team pivoted and how we continued our strong, proactive broker and aggregator engagement across digital platforms,” she explains.
“Responsive, proactive contact has always been a key priority for us at ANZ, and we know that education in the industry is going to continue to be an integral factor for both new and experienced brokers. With applications volumes recently reaching the highest levels in ANZ history, we recognise that in spite of the current environment, our brokers need our support more than ever. We continue to run our fortnightly national webinar series, which is designed to give brokers a solid knowledge base to build upon.”
Tilley says ANZ’s philosophy of proactively embracing change and rapidly adopting innovative practices has led to the bank expanding its webinar calendar to include smaller state-based webinars, which are run by ANZ BDMs around the country on a weekly basis.
“The webinar calendar has been adapted to focus on topics that our brokers and aggregators are telling us they want to hear about, and our intention is to have short, regular, focused updates on agreed topics so that we can deliver training on what brokers want to learn, when they want it. Outside of this, we continue to proactively invite feedback from our brokers on what topics they would most like us to focus on,” Tilley says.
“We wanted our brokers to be clear and confident about what was on offer and how to navigate the system to drive a seamless experience for distressed customers”
“We have led a number of sessions around our COVID-19 assistance for customers and small businesses. We wanted our brokers to be clear and confident about what was on offer and how to navigate the system to drive a seamless experience for distressed customers, whilst being cognisant of the unprecedented demands.”
Another area ANZ has been focused on is its robust research arm, which has allowed the bank to produce valuable national economic updates that have “proven to be very popular”.
“Led by our senior ANZ economist, they review macro-economic drivers both domestically and globally to build important perspective in a rapidly changing external environment,” Tilley says.
In the current atmosphere of social distancing, one of the biggest trends the industry is witnessing is the move towards a more digitised environment.
As it has for all businesses, big and small, COVID-19 has forced the bank to quickly pivot and assess its methods for delivering training and development to brokers, and Tilley says it recognises that, even in the face of these challenging times, continuous learning and upskilling is essential for all parties.
“We have seen this period accelerate and amplify digitisation. As brokers continue to become paperless, I see a greater portion of automation of bank statement analysis, electronic signatures and electronic verification of ID, just to name a few. These are exciting advancements, and we will work together with brokers to provide a frictionless end-to-end customer experience,” she explains.
“Digitisation and technology doesn’t change our DNA as an industry – it simply enables it. Human and digital communication strategies will continue to work in concert with one another for different purposes, and people will always want to deal with people, especially where relationships are new or new concepts are being shared. Digitisation is just another way to enable a seamless, efficient experience.”
It begs the question: now that social distancing rules are beginning to be wound back and restrictions are easing across the country, will these recent advances in digitisation continue to evolve at the same pace? It’s likely that the rapid uptake of the “new way of doing business” we’ve experienced in the last three months will begin to slow, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t made massive progress, Tilley says.
“I feel this period has created the social licence for having a digital meeting that may otherwise have taken years to achieve,” she says.
“One of our other key priorities has been protecting and enhancing the wellbeing of all individuals across the broking industry, as well as our own staff. We recently started offering a confidential wellbeing service to our brokers, free of charge, and we engaged an external psychologist and wellness expert to run sessions for our brokers and staff. This was to ensure we are doing everything possible to support the industry during these unprecedented times.
“Internally, we have also tried to be creative in the way that we drive engagement. We recently engaged comedians to entertain our BDMs for a short session so that we could all share a laugh. It’s important that we are open-minded and thinking about others at every step of the way.”
“Digitisation and technology doesn’t change our DNA as an industry – it simply enables it. Human and digital communication strategies will continue to work in concert with one another for different purposes”
Looking ahead, from a training and development perspective, ANZ “continues to be fluid in our focus areas” based on the feedback that is coming from the industry and what its greatest needs are, Tilley adds.
“Of course, there are a few things that will always be training staples, such as application quality. This drives symbiotic benefit for brokers and customers, saving them time on rework and helping customers by ensuring we make fair and reasonable assessments at first touch. Recent applications have seen far lower rework, so we are incredibly appreciative of the time and care brokers are investing to submit deals to ANZ,” Tilley says.
“We also see value in reiterating ANZ appetite niches so there is improved clarity around what constitutes an ANZ deal, together with our processes, policies and lending fundamentals. Furthermore, we work closely with our commercial broker team, recognising that some brokers want to grow their product offering so that they can meet the holistic needs of their customers across both residential and commercial. We take an interest in understanding what is important to brokers, and work in partnerships to help brokers achieve their own business goals.”