Published: July 19, 2018

THE new boss of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank hopes to ride the wave of confidence sweeping over the SA economy by boosting the bank’s portfolio of local business customers and strengthening its partnerships with local fintech companies.

During her first visit to Adelaide since taking the reins from Mike Hirst earlier this month, Marnie Baker said she was buoyed by the improved sentiment, and suggested the fallout from the banking royal commission offered a platform to snare market share from the big four banks.

“If I think about being Australia’s most customer connected bank, the scale and agility of the size that we are and the fact that we’re the most trusted bank in Australia - that presents us with a huge opportunity,” she said.

“There’s some great stuff happening in South Australia and it’s really pleasing seeing a lot of the surveys coming out around business confidence.

“It’s positive for the people that live here, it’s positive for organisations like ours that actually work and operate from here.

“We’re looking to grow our business banking - South Australia has so much opportunity to be able to do that and that’s something you’ll see more of.

“The more that we can do to entice more businesses into the state - that will be a great outcome.”

The country’s fifth largest retail bank has retained strong links in Adelaide since it was created through the merger of Bendigo Bank and Adelaide Bank in 2007.

It employs 1100 staff at its CBD offices on Grenfell St - the same number as its Bendigo headquarters - plus an additional 300 employees across the state.

Ms Baker took over as managing director on July 2 after close to 30 years with the company.

After revealing plans to launch a fully digital bank last week, Ms Baker said she also saw opportunities to extend partnerships with fintech companies that were changing the face of traditional banking.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank holds a 35 per cent stake in Tic:Toc - an online platform that’s slashed home loan approval times - and is part of a panel of lenders offering its products on the Joust online auction platform. Both technologies have been developed in Adelaide.

“We have partnered with fintechs for decades so we’ve been in this space for a long period of time,” Ms Baker said.

“Where others may have seen it as disruption, we see it as opportunity - we’re very much of a partnering culture.

“Tic:Toc is a really good example. They’ve carved out an element of the customer experience and a product that’s really resonating with the market.

“We’re looking to further introduce Tic:Toc into our broader customer base.”

A Roy Morgan poll released last week placed Bendigo and Adelaide Bank as the third most trusted organisation in Australia and the highest rated bank.

While she sees the banking royal commission as an opportunity to differentiate Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s track record from its competitors, she is concerned the inquiry may lead to overregulation.

“If we come out at the end of the royal commission and we see a change in behaviours as an industry, and better outcomes for customers that’s fantastic - that’ll be a great outcome,” she said.

“If it’s more regulation, I think that’s more complexity and with complexity usually comes costs and so forth - that won’t be a good outcome for customers nor for organisations.”

Article by Giuseppe Tauriello originally appeared in The Advertiser on 18 July 2018.