ANZ Bank's Wealth Head Phillips Leaves Amid Unit Restructure

  • Wealth businesses across Asia to be merged with retail units
  • New CEO Elliott has been running the ruler over businesses

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. said its wealth management head Joyce Phillips is leaving as the lender folds parts of the business into its retail unit.

The Australian wealth distribution business, and wealth management activities in Asia and New Zealand, will be merged with the retail units, the Melbourne-based lender said in a regulatory statement Wednesday. A separate division called Australia Wealth will hold the country’s insurance, pension and other investment products, it said.

Chief Executive Officer Shayne Elliott, who took over Jan. 1, has changed the top management team as he seeks to lift returns amid increasing capital requirements for Australian lenders. Competitor National Australia Bank Ltd. last year sold an 80 percent stake in its life insurance business to Japan’s Nippon Life Insurance Co. while Westpac Banking Corp. relinquished majority control of its funds management business.

“The changes announced by ANZ mean its wealth distribution business structure falls in line with its main rivals,” T.S. Lim, a Sydney-based analyst at Bell Potter Securities Ltd., said by phone. “Moving wealth distribution into the retail unit makes sense given they already have an expansive branch network in Australia and New Zealand. It will save some costs for ANZ.”

Cost Saving

The Australia Wealth unit will be led by Alexis George, currently managing director of the insurance business, ANZ said. The restructure of the wealth management business dismantles the changes ANZ instituted in 2012 when it named Phillips as the head of the business and bought all its wealth management activities under one division.

The new wealth management structure “reduces duplication and costs” across the business and provides an opportunity to “improve returns and capital efficiency” amid higher regulatory capital requirements, Elliott said in the statement.

The bank was also “largely done” with executive changes and now the focus would be on delivery, he said. While the lender is yet to name a new chief financial officer, it has shaken up its top ranks. After Elliott took over, the lender named new heads for institutional and international banking and its Australian business.

ANZ shares rose 2.7 percent to A$23.69 at 10:09 a.m. in Sydney, trimming this year’s loss to 15 percent. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index was up 1.3 percent, reducing this year’s decline to 5.9 percent.

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