AGM: Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s year of growth, transformation and support
Despite the challenges of the 2020 operating environment, the Bank continues to experience strong customer demand. Total lending continues to be a strength with year to date growth well above system at 11 percent and residential lending at 16.1 percent. Net Interest Margin continues to be well managed, increasing one basis point on 2H20 to 2.30 percent in the first quarter of financial year 2021.
This first quarter result further builds on the Bank’s Full Year result announced in August in which it recorded strong, above system residential lending growth, an increase in agribusiness lending and a 10 percent rise in customer numbers, which now total more than 1.9 million.
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s fintech partnerships with Ferocia and TicToc also continued to go from strength to strength in 2020. Up - launched in collaboration with Ferocia in 2018 - was the first mobile-only digital bank in Australia and more than doubled its customer numbers to over 250,000 this year. It is also now the country’s highest-rated banking application. The Bank’s other major fintech partner, Tic:Toc, this year recorded 120 per cent further growth, with its cumulative home loan approvals at more than $1.2 billion.
Speaking at today’s AGM, Jacqueline Hey, Chair, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, said that despite all the Bank had accomplished in 2020, the Board recognises that if it is to achieve its vision to be Australia’s bank of choice, it must continue to accelerate the transformation of the organisation.
“We have increased our focus on transformation and on ensuring our cost base is as efficient as possible to allow for future investment, while simultaneously maintaining our market leading Net Promoter Score,” Ms Hey said.
“We will continue to embrace change. Agility is the order of the day and it’s clear the organisations that adapt and transition best to meet the new demands of their stakeholders, will be the ones to succeed and ultimately feed into a stronger and more robust Australia.”
The need to transform the business for the future but was also underlined by Ms Baker.
“In 2019, we announced a multi-year transformation and growth strategy. A strategy focussed on reducing complexity, investing in capability and telling our story, to reshape our business for the future, and deliver on our vision to be Australia’s bank of choice.
“Our sights remain firmly fixed on achieving outcomes for all stakeholders, through the new investments we’re making, the capability we are building in our people and systems, and the continued focus we have on simplifying our business and carefully managing our costs.
“We have taken early and accelerated action to remove complexity and cost by increasing the intensity in our transformation program and committing to returning to target income growth exceeding cost growth this financial year. And whilst we know we have more work to do, we remain committed to achieving our targeted cost to income ratio towards 50 percent in the medium term,” Ms Baker said.
Through a year of adversity and change, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has also worked hard to support and assist those most impacted by the events of 2020. Since March, customers with more than 25,000 personal and commercial accounts have been provided with assistance to help manage the impacts of COVID-19 as the Bank scaled up its support teams to assist customers.
Addressing shareholders, Marnie Baker, Managing Director, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, said that while customers in some geographies and industries continue to face challenges, the number of customers on support packages has significantly reduced, including in Victoria.
“It is pleasing to see that our personalised support has enabled more than two thirds of customers on deferred repayment arrangements to get back on their feet and we are further encouraged by the Victorian Premier’s announcement to reopen Melbourne’s retail and hospitality industries from tomorrow,” Ms Baker said.
“The number of residential and consumer accounts on support packages is down 74 percent since the peak in May and the number of commercial accounts on support packages is down 49 percent since the peak in July. We also take comfort that our customer base is well positioned to manage through this uncertain environment, with 48 percent of customers more than six months’ ahead in their mortgage repayments and almost 40 percent more than one year ahead.
“It is in the best interests of both our customers and in turn the Bank, for customers to commence repaying their loans as soon as possible, and we will work with our customers to agree appropriate and tailored arrangements prior to their deferral period ending.
“We know it will take years for Australia, and the world, to fully recover and we remain committed to supporting our customers, their businesses and the economy as it reopens and we all adapt to the new COVID normal,” said Ms Baker.
Ms Hey provided shareholders with an update on the Board’s deferred dividend decision.
“Looking ahead we expect market conditions to remain challenging in FY21 and as a result the Board, after strong and prudent consideration, decided to defer its final dividend determination during our FY20 Final Results announcement. This decision was not made lightly and needed to take into consideration the continuing market and economic uncertainty and APRA’s industry guidance on capital management.
“At this point in time, the Board continues to closely evaluate the ongoing challenging and uncertain market conditions and will further review this decision as part of our first half year dividend considerations in February 2021.
Ms Hey also announced that the Board and Managing Director will take a 10 percent reduction in Board fees and fixed pay respectively for six months from 1 November, outlining the Board’s belief that the burden affecting most parts of our society should also be shared by the Board.
“We care deeply about our customers, our people, our shareholders and the communities we all live and work in. We think this is the right thing to do as we continue to work hard to support our stakeholders,” said Ms Hey.
Concluding, Ms Baker said: “Our purpose, values, strategy, and customer commitment will always be the lens through which we will evaluate every single decision we make. As Australia’s fifth largest retail bank, one of Australia’s oldest deposit taking institutions and a top 100 ASX listed company, we play an important role in providing responsible access to credit to fulfill the individual needs and circumstances of our customers and to support Australia’s economy. Never has this been more important than now, in our nation’s COVID recovery.”
The meeting re-elected Jacqueline Hey and Jim Hazel as Directors of the Board and accepted all resolutions in line with Board recommendations.
Addresses by the Chair and Managing Director are available on our website.