AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
CANBERRA: ANZ Bank Monday announced it will slash about 1,000 jobs in response to a tougher global environment as profits are squeezed by higher funding costs and lower demand for financial services.
The move comes barely a week after fellow banking giant Westpac confirmed it will axe up to 550 jobs while some 170 positions at the Australian arm of the Royal Bank of Scotland are also expected to disappear.
The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, the country's third-largest bank by market value, said the permanent jobs will go this year in Australia among middle management, back office and support staff.
ANZ currently employs approximately 24,000 staff in Australia and 49,000 worldwide.
Chief executive for Australia Philip Chronican said the bank was "acutely conscious of the impact of these reductions on individual staff members".
"We will be making every effort to use natural attrition, to redeploy staff, and to utilise our training funds to support those people affected," he said.
A changing global environment for banks was the catalyst with intense pressure on margins linked to higher funding costs, lower consumer and business demand for financial services, and increasing global regulation, it said.
"A different and very difficult environment is now emerging for banks globally," said Chronican.
"Just as we are seeing in other parts of the Australian economy, we are also having to adapt our business to the new conditions and become leaner, more agile and more customer-focused so we ensure the bank remains strong and can grow and invest for the future.
"In this environment, the right thing to do is to be up front with our staff and with the community about the changes needed in banking and their implications."
ANZ posted a 19 percent rise in annual net profits of Aus$5.36 billion (US$5.5 billion) for the year to September 30, warning at the time of difficult conditions ahead due to global economic volatility.
The lender is due to announce its first-quarter results on Thursday, with analysts tipping profits of around Aus$1.44 billion and the Finance Sector Union saying there was no justification for jobs cuts with such profits.
"At the end of the day that money is being made over the blood of people who are being booted out the door," said FSU National Secretary Leon Carter, who was briefed by ANZ on the cuts Monday morning.