ANZ banks big on its Indian workforce

| Updated on: Feb 24, 2011

A 150-member team from ANZ's Bangalore hub was key to integrating Royal Bank of Scotland with ANZ, demonstrating the importance of the skilled human capital in India to ANZ's growth across Asia, says Mr David Cartwright, Chief Operating Officer, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.

In the last two-and-a-half years, ANZ's workforce in India has grown from about 1,700 to about 5,000, mostly in Bangalore in IT and operational activities, making it the largest Australian employer in India.

It is also launching institutional banking operations in Mumbai this year. It is building top-end banking capability, and if the central bank supports it, ANZ will open other branches in the major commercial cities and expand its franchise in the “affluent end of the banking sector,” he says.

Often it is ‘purely cost arbitrage' when organisations set up overseas hubs. But for ANZ this is a real talent issue. The bank could not have grown from 30,000 to over 50,000 in recent years just on the home-grown skill base.

Workforce profile

“Look at the workforce, if you take the typical Australian as a ‘white, Anglo Saxon male', we are way in the minority.

Over 51 per cent is female and 48 per cent has another Asian language as a first language, Mr Cartwright pointed out to a group of Indian journalists on a tour organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia.

ANZ is present in 26 countries and fosters ‘intra-Asia trade' and not just trade with Australia and New Zealand.

Nearly a tenth of its workforce is in Bangalore, and further growth will be in other Asian hubs. In Manila there are about 200 now and the number will grow to over 1,000 by the year end. In China, at Chengdu, its latest hub, there are 30 and even the local authorities there are keen on talented people from Bangalore to train home grown workforce, according to Mr Cartwright.

Last year when ANZ bought out the assets of the Royal Bank of Scotland spread across six Asian countries ‘it was really a horrendous integration job for us.' A team from Bangalore had helped deliver the integration on time. “Without them the deal would have gone sour,” he says.

ANZ handles basic data and advanced quantitative analysis and modelling, which means it gets people from ‘top of the class, top of the universities in India.' They know the basics and only need to learn the operational style. But for some of the advanced analytics it takes up to 18 months of training to get up to speed. The capability here is “way beyond expectations, and that is good news for us,” says Mr Cartwright.

Challenges too

One aspect of the Indian education system is that people actually know how to follow instructions.

“You ask people to do something they genuinely do it. But ‘they may follow you down the tram lines and end up doing something daft.' Therefore we have to explain what not to do.”

Attrition is another concern. The young are a “generation-Y on steroids. They expect to be promoted in ultra short periods of time. What we need to do is develop good career paths. With ANZ spreading its wings there are ample opportunities for the ‘best and brightest',” he says.

Published on February 25, 2011

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