The author has been described by News Ltd as an "iconoclast", "Svengali", a pollie's "economist muse", and "pungently accurate". Fairfax says he is a "Renaissance man" and "one of Australia’s most respected analysts." Stephen Koukoulas concludes that he is "85% right", and "would make a great Opposition leader." Terry McCrann claims the author thinks "‘nuance’ is a trendy village in the south of France", but can be "scintillating" when he thinks "clearly". The ACTU reckons he’s "an enigma wrapped in a Bloomberg terminal, wrapped in some apparently well-honed abs."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Super option for Post

A development on Aussie Post from Banking Day, which I had suggested before:

"Australia Post’s managing director, Ahmed Fahour, yesterday provided partial clues on the publicly owned firm’s plans in financial services, and which centre, for now, on superannuation.

Fahour told an Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce in Sydney yesterday that Australia Post could build upon its existing business with the banks and other institutions to drive its financial services business.

"We are in partnership with many financial institutions - they are very important partnerships," he said. "Some of the things that we do in financial services now are terrific - deposits, withdrawals, foreign exchange and insurance - and we hope we can continue to do that.

"I think we can expand. There's lots of things we can do. It's our view that there are lots of opportunities in superannuation.

"We think super is a terrific area where we could be a utilities-like provider."

The Australian and AAP reported on Fahour’s speech, as did the Financial Review. David Mortimer, chair of the board of Post, also spoke at the lunch.

Post is searching for additional revenue streams to offset the decline in revenue from letters and to maintain the viability of its network of post office and agencies.

One option highlighted yesterday is to make the post office a convenient place for employers and individuals to make superannuation payments, though whether this would be very different from existing bill payment arrangements Post has with hundreds of billers – or help cut costs in notoriously inefficient sector – is not clear.

Financial services did not feature in Fahour’s update of Australia Post’s strategy and publicised earlier this year.

Speculation continues to circulate on what intentions Post might have in retail banking. Fahour was Australian CEO of National Australia Bank.

The hiring of two former, senior NAB executives in May this year helped revive this talk. The two were Michelle Tredenick and Andrew Maitland.

More recently the two most senior staff at UBank, NAB’s newish online banking brand, have been consulting to Post. The two are Gerd Schenkel and Monty Hamilton, and their association with Post is fuelling fresh rumours over Post’s banking plans.

Post provides banking services - mainly deposit taking - for dozens of banks, providing a revenue stream that Fahour's precedessors have not wanted to put at risk by straying further into the domain of Post's customers."