AMP grasps for costly reset

Ian Rogers Authorised deposit-taking institutions
21 years of misgivings since the 1998 demutualisation of AMP
21 years of misgivings since the 1998 demutualisation of AMP

Where the bloody hell is AMP's strategy?

A top question in the headline to a caustic, back page column by Adele Ferguson in The Financial Review this morning.

AMP Bank does not rate a mention in Ferguson’s analysis today, so it’s probably safe. But Banking Day did wonder at the outset of David Murray’s tenure as AMP chair – only 14 months ago, although it seems longer – as to whether a trade sale for the group’s little scrutinised banking arm might be on the cards.

Almost certainly not is our present guess, though heaven and Murray know only too well that M&A is badly needed at all levels of Australian banking.

Maybe AMP are in the running for Suncorp Bank, or might they be mulling some other consumer-friendly dodge, dealing with banks above them and below them in the rankings.
AMP Bank’s been producing some pretty neat banking products lately, best price deposit offers among them, and the bank’s value to the AMP Group stable deserves to be better appreciated.
Unfortunately for AMP, its wealth and money management operations are pretty well appreciated, just not well regarded, according to the share price of A$2.17 - down 60 per cent since the onset of the Hayne royal commission wrecking ball back in early 2018.

In Ferguson’s preview, AMP CEO Francesco De Ferrari will on Thursday, August 8 be focusing his strategy day on “a commitment to financial advice”, mostly robo-style, “cost reductions in wealth management” and facing facts, or some of them, on provisions for customer remediation.

Ferguson finishes with the biggest topic of all (though one still far too little discussed) -  the fate of AMP Life.

“There is a growing unease about the completion of the sale of AMP Life to Resolution Life”, she writes, re a whopper of a deal announced in October 2018 (by former interim CEO Mike Wilkins) and originally scheduled to be completed during the third quarter of calendar year 2019.

“Shareholders want an update on where it is at and whether it will return the cash it expects to receive from the sale to its shareholders,” Ferguson argues.

Banking Day weighed in on the AMP Life conundrums back in March.
“Nothing defines AMP’s history and reputation like life,” we editorialised then.

And yeah, the author remains a policyholder with AMP.