The EFMD business magazine

The EFMD business magazine

Growth partners: ANZ & UniSA


Financial services companies are experiencing disruption on a global scale. Banks in particular are recognising that they need to demonstrate relevance, provide value and find new ways to differentiate themselves 

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ to the world) understands that one way to remain relevant is to help its customers grow their companies by providing knowledge capital as well as financial capital. ANZ believes that being “the bank that helps my business grow” aligns with its strategy and could be a major differentiator in the market.

In 2013 the University of South Australia (UniSA) developed a strategic plan, “Crossing the Horizon 2013-18” that positioned itself as “The University of Enterprise”.

This plan described how UniSA would become a leading contributor to Australia through innovative solutions to social, economic, political and technological challenges; creative contributions to the prosperity and wellbeing of the nation; and building and maintaining productive partnerships with industry and the business community.

UniSA’s Pro Vice Chancellor for Business and Law approached ANZ to outline the business school’s intent to create a Centre for Business Growth and asked ANZ to sponsor a Chair and provide initial funding as a Foundation Partner of the Centre.

ANZ agreed, funded the ANZ Chair in Business Growth and provided funding for an “ANZ
Business Growth Program” to be delivered to a set of ANZ business customers with turnover of $A5 million – $50A million turnover. Approximately 50 companies would attend the Centre’s growth Assessment Clinic, with 10 of those companies being selected to continue on in the Centre’s nine-month business Growth Modules.

Within two weeks, the Centre started delivering ANZ Assessment Clinics to ANZ customers and identifying some of the problems inhibiting their growth. Since then, 158 companies (including 158 CEOs and over 60 executive team members) have participated in the ANZ Assessment Clinics and Growth Modules.

Effective partnering agreement

ANZ’s Director of Strategy for Corporate and Commercial acted as the internal champion for the partnership between the UniSA Business School and ANZ, influencing several ANZ executives in Australia to contribute the funds. ANZ also committed staff to manage the ANZ Business Growth Program. The CEO of ANZ has met twice with the companies in the ANZ Business Growth Program and was engaged and interested in each company’s business growth journey.

Each year, for the past three years, 54 CEOs (on average) have been invited to an ANZ Assessment Clinic and 10 companies (the CEOs plus two executives per company) have been selected for the ANZ Growth Modules.

Each year the ANZ Chair in Business Growth provides two Insights Report to ANZ that include aggregate information about the CEOs who came to the Clinics and the 10 teams of executives who attended the ANZ Growth Modules.

The reports summarise issues impeding the companies’ growth, with key insights into the challenges companies face when growing. The Insights Reports are proprietary to ANZ and are being used to provide the bankers with insights about small and medium companies and have enabled ANZ bankers to have more relevant conversations with customers.

Learning and development initiative

The process begins with ANZ bankers nominating companies for the Clinic. The first year the ANZ Chair interviewed those nominated and selected Clinic attendees. Once the ANZ Program Manager understood the selection criteria, she vetted the nominees, made the selection and sent the names and contact information to the Centre. From there, the Centre staff communicate with the CEOs and ask them to gather and upload specific information about their business (financial, marketing, organisation, product, customers) to a secure, online platform.

Each Clinic is designed for six CEOs, facilitated by two “Growth Experts” who have started, grown and exited a company, that is, have experienced company growth. Prior to the Clinic the Growth Experts review all materials submitted by the CEOs then teach the content, provide coaching, and facilitate peer discussions and learning. The structured format is consistent across all Clinics.

Upon completion of the Clinics, the ANZ Chair in Business Growth identifies 10 companies who will benefit most from the nine-month intensive ANZ Growth Modules. ANZ reviews the companies, then the Centre extends an invitation to the 10 selected CEOs, with the understanding that they must bring two executive team members with them to the ANZ Growth Modules.

The three Growth Modules, delivered over nine months, include content from the Centre’s Knowledge Framework for Growth, delivered by the ANZ Chair and Growth Experts, facilitated discussions, peer learning, and action planning, plus opportunities for executive teams and CEOs/MDs to have discussions with each other as well as with other executives in the programme, all of whom are trying to learn how to grow their companies.

Proven business impact

The impact on ANZ’s customers includes:

  • increased revenue
  • higher profitability
  • new jobs added
  • company alignment around a growth strategy
  • improvements in marketing and sales
  • exports to more countries
  • creation of a culture required for growth
  • understanding what leadership is required for company growth
  • attracting and retaining the people needed for growth

CEOs who have graduated from the programme are very loyal to ANZ. In addition to increased “stickiness”, it has enabled ANZ to demonstrate its purpose – “helping people and communities thrive”.

Companies who have graduated from the ANZ Business Growth Program continue to call the ANZ Chair and Growth Experts for advice, report success, and participate in the Centre’s longitudinal study of companies who have gone through clinics and modules. The Centre sends them monthly newsletters, offers webinars and invites them to participate in other programmes. Companies are continuing to grow and happily speak to subsequent cohorts about the programme’s impact on their company. Some 94% of the CEOs say they would recommend the programme to other CEOs.

Continued commitment

The relationship between ANZ and the Centre is core to the success of the programme and continues to strengthen. The ANZ Program Manager and the Centre’s operational staff have scheduled calls and face-to-face meetings. The ANZ Chair also meets with and presents to ANZ’s Senior Leadership.

ANZ’s continuing sponsorship through 2020 includes support for digital innovations that will enable the Centre to deliver Clinics to more business customers including those in regional and rural areas, growth content developed by the Centre for ANZ, and discussions about a growth programme specifically designed for agribusiness companies.

This project has been transformational for all involved: the Centre’s programmes have enabled ANZ customers to grow and assisted with banker education; the Insights Reports are informing ANZ’s Senior Leadership and Business Relationship Managers about the challenges faced by their business customers; ANZ’s desire to offer these programmes to hundreds of customers has encouraged the Centre to innovate and develop new delivery modes and channels. In July 2017 the Centre became the Australian Centre for Business Growth, reflecting the vision that ANZ and UniSA share: to enable more Australian companies to learn how to grow.

Growth partners - ANZ & University of South Australia Business School Growth partners - ANZ & University of South Australia Business School

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