It was a bit of milestone (maybe around 2006) when ANZ or its mail house figured out how to print bank statements on both sides of a piece of paper. And now, in similar vein, one director is trusting the excess of bank snail mail to his home address will be whittled down to one.
In the first of a series of Q&A meditations with non-executives directors at ANZ’s Bluenotes portal, John “JT” Macfarlane shared this anecdote:
“I get the experience as a customer because I get the letters - I get the envelopes in the mail from ANZ. I remember saying to one of the managers that I was a bit annoyed because in the last week I'd had 15 envelopes from ANZ.
“And someone said ‘but JT, you can go online and you can receive it all electronically and you don't have to get these envelopes’.
“And I said ‘No, I get the envelopes for a purpose’. Because the day I get one envelope instead of 15 envelopes, I’ll know the bank's data has been able to identify that the various accounts I have all belong to the same person. So it's a real world experience.”
Reflecting on his experience as a customer of the bank – which is by no means the norm for directors in the industry - Macfarlane talked up the benefits of “dealing with frontline bankers”.
“I was in New Zealand recently and I met with three of the people who I bank with at ANZ in Christchurch. We spent two hours going over a number of those enterprises I’ve been talking about, going through our debt structure and thinking about what was optimal. So I get a very frontline, first-hand view of the challenges frontline bankers are dealing with.
“I think I get very frank feedback too. I can sit at the top of the bank and see the strategy but by dealing with the frontline I also get very direct feedback.”
Asked by the Bluenotes editor “does there need to be more direct customer input at the board level?” Macfarlane explained that “it's always valuable for the directors to get out and talk to people in the frontline and the board's been doing a lot more of that in the last 18 months or so.
“In the last 12 months we've had board meetings in Canberra, in Wagga Wagga, in Hobart.
“Speaking for myself - and I know the other directors feel this as well - the highlights of those trips are when we go to the branches. First of all, to meet people who are on the frontline but secondly when those people take us to meet their customers.”