NAB Asset Servicing has introduced several changes over the past 12 months which aim to provide more certainty that the business can deliver on its commitment to enhancing products and services to meet its clients’ needs.
Under the stewardship of John Comito, the executive general manager, NAB Asset Servicing (NAS) has re-framed the narrative of its position in the market which has helped the division secure contract extensions to long-standing customers and win new mandates.
“In the past, Asset Servicing was run as a stand-alone business,” Comito says. “One of the most important changes we made is aligning our strategy with NAB’s broader strategy for the funds sector. NAB recognises funds play a key role in the Australian economy, particularly through supporting Australians build wealth and plan for their retirement.”
NAB is the only [Australian] bank to own an asset servicing business, so is uniquely positioned to provide the full suite of financial solutions to support customers in this segment. NAS became a part of ‘Corporate Institutional Banking’ (CIB) in August 2016, and this year, NAB recruited a high-profile and well-regarded ‘chief customer officer’ in former NSW Premier Mike Baird, Comito’s new boss.
Baird happens to be a former banker and one of the most popular state or federal leaders until his retirement from politics last year. “Having Asset Servicing as part of the CIB division ensures that we can take a very strategic approach to supporting clients,” Comito says. “For example, in addition to performing key functions such as custody and investment administration services, we can assist customers with hedging strategies for the growing pool of offshore investment, cash management and investment product for members.”
In line with the NAB vision, the NAS focus is to be the most respected custodian in the Australian and New Zealand markets.
Comito says: “Having customers as advocates is critical for success in any service industry and we need take time to understand their strategy and introduce new products and services accordingly. By way of example, given the low-yield environment, we are seeing Australian funds increase portfolio allocation to alternative asset classes such as infrastructure and corporate loans.
“As NAB is the largest business bank in Australia, and is a leading player in Infrastructure, we are able to work with clients on investment portfolios that match their risk reward appetite by leveraging skills and capabilities across CIB.”
Comito recently presented and received approval for a three-year strategy plan for NAS, which included funding various new initiatives to uplift the customer experience. These initiatives were based on feedback from clients and market analysis. Some of these include the transition to a new digital risk and performance engine, an enhanced mandate monitoring capability and the appointment of OneVue for both wholesale and retail registry.
In line with the organisational focus NAB has on ESG, NAS has also partnered with Sustainalytics to help clients pursue and report on ESG principles. Sustainalytics is a global ESG research and ratings firm which opened an Australian office in 2015.
Prior to joining NAB Asset Servicing, Comito held a range of senior positions across NAB including both chief risk officer for CIB, executive general manager of the Financial Institutions Group and CFO of CIB. A banker for more than 20 years, Comito’s experience and network has been critical to connecting the Asset Servicing business into the broader NAB strategy.
He says: “As a division of a major Australian bank, we pride ourselves in having deep knowledge of the complex regulatory, accounting and tax environment our customers operate in and continue to attract experienced talent into our team.”
Recent hires include Allyson Bradnam, the general manager of product, who is ex-RBC in Australia and Canada, and Ken Shaw, the general manager of sales and relationships, who previously spent about 10 years at BNP Paribas in the UK and Australia. The leadership team also includes David Knights who is the chair of the Australian Custodial Services Association.
Comito says: “We are excited about the future of this business and what it holds for both our clients, particularly our ability to bring the skills and capabilities across the broader bank to help our customers succeed.”
Greg Bright is publisher of Investor Strategy News (Australia)