2021 AGM: Bank outlines path to a bigger, better and stronger future
At today’s Bendigo and Adelaide Bank 2021 Annual General Meeting, shareholders heard how the Bank remains well-placed with a well-capitalised, robust and resilient balance sheet to deliver lasting social and economic benefits for its shareholders, customers, staff, partners and communities.
Speaking at the meeting, Chair, Jacqueline Hey and Managing Director, Marnie Baker said despite the challenges faced this year, the Bank had delivered on its growth and transformation strategy which in turn, is making Bendigo and Adelaide Bank a bigger, better and stronger organisation.
Cash earnings after tax increased 51.5 percent from last year to just over $457 million, total income on a cash basis increased 4.5 percent on the prior corresponding period to more than $1.7 billion, while the Bank also continued to generate above system lending growth, invest for the future, and hold costs relatively flat.
Ms Baker said partnerships, collaboration and innovation will remain intrinsic to everything the Bank does, as it builds on the past year’s momentum to excel in the future.
“The high level of trust placed in our brand by Australians is something we don’t take lightly. As one of the country’s top 20 most trusted brands, across all industries, we are proud to be an essential part of the local communities we live and work in, and we work hard every day to retain the trust that has been placed in us.
“We also know that capability - not trust alone - is key to our customers’ choice of banking providers. That’s why continuing to build and uplift our capability, while at the same time modernising and transforming our business is vitally important for our future; a future we’re genuinely excited to shape.
“Embedding core digital capabilities to improve the experience for our customers as well as digitising and automating core processes, is a key part of our transformation roadmap. Through all this change, our deeply human and personalised approach to banking will continue to shape the connections that matter most to our customers.”
Ms Baker also spoke about the Bank’s recent acquisition of Melbourne-based fintech company, Ferocia, which will allow the organisation to further accelerate its digital strategy and shape the future of banking for a new generation of customers.
Addressing shareholders, Ms Hey said that while the Bank had achieved much in the 12 months since the 2020 AGM, the Board recognises that as one of Australia’s older and larger financial institutions, it has considerable responsibilities - the most important of which is to do the right thing - so it can continue to deliver on its longstanding purpose of feeding into prosperity, not off it.
“Our Bank’s commitment to supporting our customers has never been more important or impactful than in this last year. Everyone has been affected - some much more than others - and while for a multitude of reasons many did it tougher in 2021 than in 2020, there is, I believe, a renewed sense of optimism in the air, as we quickly approach the end of this year.”
Ms Hey’s sentiments were echoed by Ms Baker.
“For more than 18 months, COVID-19 has dominated almost every aspect of our lives and has tested the resilience of all Australians like never before. In times like this, our strong and deeply embedded values come to the fore, providing a focal point to help guide our actions - both personally and professionally.
“For our Bank, our values are the bedrock upon which we’ve built our business. This solid base has enabled us to deliver on our fundamental purpose - to feed into prosperity, not off it - to support our customers and communities through the highs and lows of the past 18 months, and to reshape the organisation in line with our bold vision to be Australia’s bank of choice.”
Environmental, Social and Governance
Since its 2020 AGM, the Bank has continued to grow market share, customer numbers, total lending and deposits. Importantly, however, this was not achieved at the expense of the Bank’s commitment to its people, its communities, or the environment, with strong results also recorded against its non-financial targets.
Ms Hey said the Bank had demonstrated sustained leadership across important environmental, social and governance measures.
“Since our founding years, we have operated with a belief that the long-term sustainability of our business is much more than just the health of our balance sheet, and our financial performance.
“That’s why this year, we were proud to introduce our annual sustainability report, which documents our ESG progress and provides transparency, measurement, and accountability to our various stakeholders.
“We support the required transition to net zero emissions by 2050, with aligned interim targets, and we are committed to playing our part in this transition.
“As outlined in our sustainability report, we’ve been on this journey for some time and believe we’ve made further significant progress in Financial Year 2021 by releasing our first sustainability report, achieving carbon neutral status, and aligning our Climate-related Financial Disclosures with the TCFD framework.”
In conclusion, Ms Baker said, “The operating environment for the banking industry has its challenges, with net interest margins experiencing continued compression and the lending environment remaining highly competitive. We continue to manage our cost base relative to revenue expectations, delivering on our commitment to further reduce our cost to income ratio and lift shareholder returns.
“I anticipate economic and market conditions will continue to provide ongoing challenges, but I look forward with optimism and firmly believe our distinctive strength of purpose, digital innovation and customer and community connection will continue to provide sustainable shareholder value, and opportunities for the Bank in financial year 2022 and beyond.”
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s 2021 Annual General Meeting re-elected Vicki Carter as a director of the Board, elected Richard Deutsch as a new director of the Board and accepted all resolutions in line with Board recommendations.
Links to both addresses by the Chair and Managing Director are available on the ASX website.