The Bank We’re Building: Mark Whelan

Mark Whelan

ANZ Group Executive Institutional Mark Whelan

The Bank We’re Building brings together the things that collectively define ANZ – our purpose, our strategy and our culture. Over the past five years, we’ve made great strides, simplifying the bank and helping customers take advantage of opportunities as well as supporting them through challenges.


In this new series, hear directly from ANZ’s Executive Leadership team their thoughts on building culture, living our purpose and building a better bank for the future.


You can browse the full series here.


At ANZ, we’ve been around for a long time, but we’re continuously building for the future – across our home markets in Australia and New Zealand and our broad international network, which includes more than 30 markets worldwide.


We’re building a bank that lives our purpose to shape a world where communities thrive. That should drive everything we do and that's ultimately what we're aiming to achieve at a high level.


Our culture is a derivative of that purpose. The behaviours we're implementing within the bank are critical ingredients to establishing a culture that is customer-focused, encourages people to speak up, and values diversity.


ANZ is the most outward looking of the Australian banks. We operate in more than 30 markets around the world which presents many unique challenges and opportunities – particularly for my team in the Institutional bank.


We work hard to recognise and embrace different cultures. Despite this the fundamentals don’t change. Our values have to be consistent in all of the markets where we operate. Simplifying our story and being able to explain how connected and interdependent these things are is important.


The bank we’re building is one that embeds its values in its strategy. ANZ’s strategy is well documented around financial wellbeing, home loans, business and trade flows.


For ANZ Institutional, our role is helping customers move goods and capital around the region using sustainable business practises. Our strategy is based around five pillars: targeting customers who value us; focusing on clear priority sectors; keeping a sharp geographic focus; simplifying our products and technology; and driving structural efficiency – front to back.


We'll achieve all of those things by focusing on four Ps - propositions, platforms, partnerships and people.


For example, in Institutional we deliver partnerships, such as the one announced with climate advisory and investment firm Pollination earlier this year, to support our Environmental Sustainability strategy and help our customers achieve their net zero targets.


We also offer propositions our customers value across the products we offer (Markets, Corporate Finance and Transaction Banking) and geographies we cover (Australia, New Zealand and International).


We are also making good progress on our platforms-as-a-service strategy to support customers’ payments and cash management needs, alongside our focus on digital, data and automation.


And we’re supporting the development of our people through learning and development programs, for example on environmental sustainability, while building a diverse and inclusive culture where people can thrive at work. One of the many aspects of diversity is the representation of women, which is an area where we’ve made strong progress but still have more work to do. 


The four Ps themselves are not the strategy though, they are what we have to deliver on to achieve our overarching strategy.

We also need to focus on how we create a consistent culture in a business which spans four continents.

It can be tough at times.


Take for example, speak up culture. We want our people to feel safe to be able to express themselves and to speak up and feel confident in doing that. We encourage it, and we measure it through regular internal surveys.


But in some markets, culturally it's just not what you do. So we have to encourage it as far as we practically can while respecting the fact that in some cultures, staff will be less likely to speak up because it's just not the way they operate in that market. We have to respect that and make sure we offer the right opportunities for people to feel safe to speak up. If you get that balance right, that’s when you start to get traction.


It’s also worth remembering that while some things are reasonably static like cultures and values, the world is constantly evolving. That means the bank we're building is an ongoing process. 


A sustainable future


The bank we’re building is one that looks for shared values with customers and partners. One non-negotiable value is sustainability. As we move towards building a more sustainable world, the scale of the opportunity is massive. Could we build everything ourselves to have that capability? Maybe. Should we? No. We’re much better making an investment with a partner to drive up that capability. That's why we recently announced our partnership with Pollination.


Our other big challenge is we’ve spent a lot of time ‘renovating’ the Institutional bank. We know it has been through a period of instability. Now, with the bank we're building, it’s about recognising the major renovations are done but we're going to continue to do maintenance on the property, if you will. We need to continue to evolve as the market does.


And we might do other things that makes our business a better ‘property’ based on what we're seeing the market wants. Sustainability is a great example of that. Six or seven years ago, we knew this was something we needed to focus on. It's now a mainstream business opportunity. We need to build that capability today, whereas previously we didn't.


Now is that a change of strategy? No, it isn't. Our customers now value that service more than they did five or six years ago and we will deliver that to them as it will ultimately deliver a better outcome for us. And it's certainly in line with the overall purpose of the bank. Sustainability is at the heart of that. If you stand still in a market that's moving, the building will inevitably decay. 


And even though Institutional is a distinct part of the business, in different markets with a different kind of customer, the Bank We’re Building applies. Purpose, culture, values, strategy. They're all consistent. We interpret our different customers' different needs with different propositions. We may offer different products and services depending on the market or the unique regulatory environment, but the fundamental drivers of what we deliver across our business are the same.


Mark Whelan is Group Executive Institutional at ANZ


Find conversations with ANZ’s Executive Committee on the Bank We’re Building series page


more from this series:

The Bank We’re Building: executive perspectives

In this new series, hear directly from ANZ’s Executive Committee their thoughts on building culture, living our purpose and building a better bank for the future.

The Bank We’re Building: Antonia Watson

ANZ Group Executive and CEO New Zealand says simplification of the Kiwi business has created a platform for future growth.

The Bank We’re Building: Ken Adams

ANZ Group General Counsel says recruiting lawyers with a deep sense of purpose and a focus on strategy will help the bank win in the future.