NAB puts another $1.3bn behind more IT-based improvements

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NAB puts another $1.3bn behind more IT-based improvements

Builds on three years of transformation.

NAB will invest around $1.3 billion into a tech-heavy program of work aimed at further simplifying IT systems and processes and uplifting specific digital and security capabilities.

The bank said in its full year results announcement on Thursday [pdf] that about 30 percent of the $1.3 billion - about $390 million - would be “discretionary spend”.

It planned to use this to simplify business lending processes and policies; invest in bankers, processes and technology to improve customer experience, and to make digital transactional banking and home lending processes simpler.

Investments would also be made in enhancing the bank’s “technology resilience via insourcing and migration of apps to the cloud” - a process that has been going on for several years already - and enhancing its “use of data and analytics to deliver customer solutions and improve [its] control environment”.

Additionally, some of the $390 million would be put towards growing NAB’s digital UBank brand “as a digital attacker with a differentiated proposition”.

NAB classed the remainder of the $1.3 billion as “other spend”.

While this covered commercial property fitouts, there are also technology programs being funded, including to “uplift systems, processes and [the] control environment” and to “focus on financial crime detection and prevention, and cyber security capability”.

The bank said its focus on cyber security and countering financial crime through FY20 was already paying dividends.

It claimed to have “achieved 50 percent faster cyber detection and response capabilities” and a “40x increase in data protection efficacy through preventative control uplifts”, though it did not elaborate, nor reveal any actual statistics.

On the cloud migration, the bank said it hit 38 percent of applications migrated in FY20, remaining on track to have migrated 80 percent of its application environment by 2023.

NAB said it had managed to shrink the number of applications it runs in its corporate environment by seven percent since FY17.

It also claimed a reduction in the number of critical incidents that impacted its finance platforms in the second half of the year, after a concerning first-half spike.

“We have a clear strategic ambition for NAB,” CEO Ross McEwan said in a statement. 

“We have narrowed our focus to initiatives that will make a real difference to our customers and colleagues, and support our desire to be known for being relationship-led, easy, safe and focused on the long term. 

“Our priorities over the next three to five years include simplifying processes and policies for home and business lending, creating simpler transactional banking, providing enhanced data and analytics to customers and colleagues and growing our digital bank UBank. 

“We will also continue to enhance our technology resilience via insourcing and migration of IT applications to lower cost, more reliable cloud platforms.”

NAB said that it is resolving more customer support interactions via digital channels, with only a small percentage needing to be escalated for resolution.

“Only around 15 percent of chat sessions [need to be] transferred to [our] contact centres,” it said.

As iTnews reported last month, NAB has also spent much of 2020 offering e-learning opportunities to its staff, which large numbers have taken advantage of.

“There is an ongoing focus on upskilling technology capability with >1400 industry-certified colleagues in Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform,” the bank said.

It further said that greater than “50,000 hours of digital learning [was] completed through … six industry-leading platforms”.

NAB employees have access to 250,000 digital learning opportunities through LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Pluralsight, Udemy, A-Cloud Guru and O’Reilly Safari Books,” the bank said.

NAB's after-tax profit for FY20 was $2.559 billion, down from $4.8 billion the previous year.

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