ANZ Bank has snared former Google boss Maile Carnegie as group executive of its digital banking group reporting directly to the CEO, Shayne Elliott.
The appointment, which came out of the blue, signals just how important digital banking is to ANZ which under recently installed CEO Mr Elliott now seems set to finally upgrade its technology platforms after a previous dogged focus mainly on Asian expansion.
Ms Carnegie, who comes fully armed with insights about Google’s future global plans, has been charged to lead a program to deliver a fresh range of digital banking services to ANZ’s 8 million customers – and also to forge closer relationships with the FinTech sector. ANZ does not want to get disrupted out of business.
As if that weren’t enough, she has also been charged with group responsibility for marketing, including ANZ’s brand, advertising and sponsorship.
Under Ms Carnegie’s stewardship the bank will also no doubt be agitating to be admitted to the government’s recently-formed expert advisory group on FinTech, which is currently dominated by Westpac and Commonwealth bank representatives.
The appointment is key because according to Mr Elliott, digital banking is at the heart of the bank’s future strategy.
“We have a great digital foundation with applications such as GoMoney and FastPay and the recent redevelopment of anz.com. Maile’s appointment recognises that digital is central to driving revenue growth and to successfully competing in a changing and disrupted environment where technology and brand are key sources of differentiation.
“Part of Maile’s role will also be to shift our thinking and champion a group-wide innovation culture at ANZ based on developing and attracting service-focused, technology-literate, innovative and experimental people and teams,” Mr Elliott said.
“This includes being the sponsor of a new Digital Business Transformation Leadership Program created jointly by ANZ and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”
That takes a leaf directly out of the Commonwealth Bank’s playbook, which under former CIO Michael Harte sent 500 IT staff and senior bank personnel to MIT to undertake a specially-designed course that lifted their understanding of the importance of innovation and leadership abilities. Mr Harte always credited this initiative with establishing a generation of tech-savvy business leaders at the bank.
Ms Carnegie will no doubt need something similar as she is joining ANZ at a time when digital transformation is higher on its agenda than ever before – and the bank is at the rear of the main pack.
There’s a certain irony however in her now running the ANZ’s digital banking program as she hasn’t always been convinced of the importance of it – at least for Google.
In 2014 she cruelled Google Wallet’s chances in Australia saying that she didn’t see digital wallets as a big opportunity for Google in Australia, and that the platform would not be launched locally.
That left the way clear for the banks to roll out their own digital wallets, and for Apple to make at least some way with ApplePay (albeit only for American Express users in Australia at present).
Digital wallets have long been a big deal for ANZ. When the bank launched its GoMoney app for the iPhone in 2010 it was the first major Australian bank to launch a smartphone banking app.
Since then however banking’s technology crown has been shared between Commonwealth Bank, then Westpac – with NAB agitating for its chance to wear it, even though it is still rolling out its Next Gen digital banking platform.
Ms Carnegie will now be playing catch up. She has however already established her corporate chops and demonstrated cool under fire.
She joined Google as managing director of Google in ANZ in 2013 after 20 years with Procter & Gamble, and had a rough ride last year when she was grilled by the Senate Inquiry into Tax Avoidance.
She nevertheless kept a cool head during fierce grilling, claiming that the company globally paid a tax rate of 19.3 per cent. It pays a much lower rate in Australia thanks to an arrangement which sees it book local advertising revenues through its Singapore operations.