BENDIGO and Adelaide Bank officials believe they can make further ground on the big four banks, pointing out the high level of customer trust the business has built up.
Speaking at the company’s annual general meeting in Bendigo last week Bendigo and Adelaide Bank managing director Marnie Baker said the company had performed well in recent surveys on trust.
“The recent net trust score released from Roy Morgan lists us as the most trusted bank in Australia, and in the top ten most trusted brands in Australia across all industries, not just banking,” Ms Baker, who took over the reins at Bendigo and Adelaide in July, said.
The Bendigo and Adelaide Bank business has a strong exposure to rural and regional customers, both through its Rural Bank business and through the Bendigo Bank’s network of community banks.
Chairman Robert Johanson underlined the company’s commitment to rural lending following criticism from the banking Royal Commissioner in relation to some loans from the bank over a decade ago.
“A commitment to providing banking for farming does require a longer perspective than most lending,” he said.
“Cycles in farming require a deeper commitment to the industry and a longer term relationship with the customer than most banking does.”
Last week saw a solid result for the bank, with a $434.5 million profit, up 1.1 per cent year on year and with a good lift in cash earnings, up 6.4pc to $445.1 million.
The market generally reacted positively to the result, which has come in a difficult year for the banking sector, marred by the scandals arising from the banking Royal Commission.
Ms Baker used the AGM as a platform to campaign for regulatory reform to end what she said was an environment that favoured the Big Four over other financial institutions.
“One of the fundamental causes of the current crisis in financial services in Australia is the lack of true competition in Australian banking,” she said.
“It is crucial that organisations with different objectives and standards can compete on a level playing field and customers can choose accordingly.
In terms of the Bendigo and Adelaide business Ms Baker said she wanted to simplify the structures surrounding the company’s three key customers groups.
“To make it even easier for us to do business, and for people to bank with us, we are focusing on reducing complexity,” she said.
Mr Johanson addressed some of the findings of the Royal Commission which implicated Bendigo and Adelaide in relation to loans made to cattle farmers in Queensland.
He said although the majority of loans had been made over a decade ago, before 2007, the bank had taken steps to address the concerns the commissioner had in regards to lending criteria and said the bank understood it needed to approach rural banking differently to other business streams.