ANZ's record result was helped by the bank cutting 2500 staff over the past year

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The ANZ Bank’s 18% rise in annual cash profit to $6.94 billion was helped by significant cuts in expenses and by slicing staff levels.

Over the year the number of average full time equivalent staff dropped 5%, or about 2500, to 46,068. At the end September, ANZ employed 44,896 people worldwide, about 4% fewer than 12 months before.

The big falls in staff numbers were mostly offshore, in its institutional banking sector and in Asia where the bank has sold of its retail operations, as this table shows:

Source: Qantas

A year ago, the ANZ announced it had sold its Asia retail banking to DBS so it could concentrate on its institution customers in the region.

Elliott, who in January 2016 replaced Mike Smith, a big believer in the growth prospects of Asia, has been clear that he wanted a more targeted business in the region.

In the year just ended, the ANZ cut overall operating expenses by 9% to $9.45 billion.

“Our cost base has reduced and is down year on year in absolute terms for the first time in 18 years,” says CEO Shayne Elliott.

“We are improving the speed to market for our retail business through the adoption of Agile work practices via the introduction of New Ways of Working, initially focused on the Australia Division.”   

A short time ago, ANZ shares were down 1.4% to $30.05.

The result was tempered by an 8 basis point fall in net interest margins to 1.99%.

“This is a good result which demonstrates further progress in becoming a better balanced, better capitalised, more efficient bank,” says Elliott.

“Two years ago it was clear we needed to reshape ANZ’s future. Although we had a strong business, the external environment was changing faster than we were and our customers, the community and our shareholders expected much more from us.

“We have made some difficult calls in that time and the new shape of ANZ is now emerging.”

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