Despite a decade as ANZ's New Zealand boss — during which time he took up Kiwi citizenship — David Hisco was until last year still pocketing a gold-plated annual "expat expenses" package worth close to half a million NZ dollars tax-free.
That package — worth A$464,599 in 2018 — was plenty generous enough to swallow the tens of thousands of dollars that Hisco is claimed to have spent on Corporate Cabs which are said to have been incorrectly chalked up to ANZ as direct business charges over a nine-year period.
It would surely also have swallowed up the bill that ANZ footed for storing Hisco's wine collection in Australia thus escaping the duty that he would personally have had to pay if brought to New Zealand in one go.
Such expenses — while indicative of the culture of excess which has until recently ruled Australian banking — were admitted this week by ANZ local chairman Sir John Key to have come within the scope of Hisco's generous employment terms.
But, inexplicably, Hisco failed to ensure that the so-called "chauffeured car" bills and wine storage charges were transparently recorded.
If so, they would have been dealt with in the normal corporate fashion. Either accepted or, if rejected, sorted out by simply paying any disputed charge back.
The upshot is he has been pushed out in a brutal signal by Key and ANZ Group chief executive Shayne Elliott that they intend to adhere to new culture and behaviour norms of accountability asserted by the Hayne banking commission.
Hisco's package was a relic of the Mike Smith era. The former ANZ Australia boss would have taken part in negotiations over Hisco's remuneration package when the latter was shoulder-tapped to head up the New Zealand operations in 2010. That package would have been approved by ANZ's board in Melbourne.
Notes to ANZ's 2018 report spell out that the non-monetary benefits awarded to ANZ's leadership team generally consisted of company-funded benefits (and the associated fringe benefits tax) such as car parking, taxation services, costs met by the company in relation to relocation, outplacement services and gifts received on leaving ANZ for former disclosed executives.
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Such "non-monetary benefits" packages typically cover costs like rents, regular flights home, private school fees, medical expenses and more for key executives on international transfer. These non-taxable benefits can make a big difference to an overall pay packet.
But the size of the "non monetary benefits" package — which was on top of Hisco's healthy A$1.2 million ($1.26m) fixed-term salary and a short-term bonus of A$644,000 for 2018 — stuck out like a sore thumb in ANZ's 2018 annual report.
It far dwarfed the size of non-monetary benefits paid to other ANZ group executives and put him squarely in the sights of Elliott who earlier this year decided it was time for a review of his top team's expenses.
Elliott replaced several executives after he was appointed to head the Australian bank and set out to end an era of executive perks that built up under Smith.
His own pay package was initially half that of Smith's. In quick order he cut the number of limousine drivers on call from five to one. Smith's large office was turned into a meeting room while Elliott took a much smaller office and the executive floor was opened up to other bank staffers.
Hisco's superior performance in New Zealand — where he had melded ANZ and the former National Bank — into the country's biggest and most profitable bank — meant his job had been assured.
He was one of the ANZ banking group's highest paid and highest performing executives.
But while the non-monetary benefits Hisco had been receiving were clearly part of his overall remuneration package they had become an anomaly in an era where large financial organisations were opting to strip out fringe benefits in favour of a regime where executives met their needs from their salaries.
In Hisco's case, his decision to take up New Zealand citizenship would have raised doubts as to whether it was still correct to categorise him as an executive on transfer.
Key has fronted the Hisco departure in New Zealand. But it is obvious from news reports that Elliott — or his team — have briefed media on the role the ANZ group chief executive has played in the Hisco decision.
As the Australian's John Durie wrote, "Elliott has framed Hisco's departure as evidence of a new era in accountability at the bank, and as welcome as that change is it's a big stretch to apply the word fully to someone who was 'misclassifying' expenses yet will be paid out full leave and termination benefits amounting to about A$2m."
Presentationally, Key has framed Hisco's departure as mutual. But there will have been intense negotiations which would have added to the stress levels of the former CEO who was already on sick leave.
The ultimate decision on Hisco's future will have been made by ANZ's New Zealand board, which includes three other NZ-based independent directors: Tony Carter, Joan Withers and Mark Verbiest. Elliott and ANZ Australia's chief financial officer also sit on the NZ board.
Hisco's departure comes at a time when ANZ is still under fire over using an unapproved model to calculate its operational risk capital.
With the CEO gone it will now be down to the board to front the ongoing friction with the Reserve Bank and Government.