ANZ Bank chief executive Shayne Elliott concedes the bank may have been too cautious in its home lending decisions after new figures showed its mortgage book shrank in late 2018. They will now look to expand more quickly in the investor market, which has been dragging on growth in the wider $1.6 trillion mortgage market, partly due to the tighter conditions.

Figures published by ANZ last week showed its mortgage portfolio contracted in the last three months of 2018 by $542 million, or 0.2%. During 2018, ANZ said its loan growth was just 1%, compared with industry-wide growth of 4.2%. The bank explained the slow growth by pointing to tighter credit policies within the bank and its preference for owner-occupier and p&i loans, which tend to be paid off more quickly.

“While we are maintaining our focus on the owner-occupier segment, we acknowledge we may have been overly conservative in our implementation of some policy and process changes,” Elliott says. “We are also taking steps to prudently increase volumes in the investor space.”