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Financial strength delivers solid results

Foundations of financial strength and prudential fiscal management have allowed Greater Bank to deliver positive results for the 2021 Financial Year against a backdrop of a pandemic-induced challenges and significant investment in its digital transformation program.

The financial performance of the Hunter-based financial services provider was announced to customers today by Chair, Wayne Russell, and CEO, Scott Morgan at its Annual General Meeting held in Hamilton.

Headlining the results was Greater Bank’s growth in total assets, which exceeded $8 billion for the first time and up from $7.5 billion the previous year.

This, along with a 10% increase in deposit growth, was a strong indicator of the changing customer behaviours through the pandemic as more customers turned to their financial institution for a secure means of saving, as well as to pay down debt.

The group profit result of $22.9 million is in line with the 2020 Financial Year figure of $23.1 million, which, according to Mr Russell, has been particularly pleasing given the macroeconomic challenges and the pace of investment in Digital Transformation.

“There is little doubt that Financial Year 2021 challenged our business as we continued to navigate a pandemic and the associated economic issues. These positive top-level results come off the back of prudential fiscal control of the underlying business and strong net interest margin management,” 

Wayne Russell, Greater Bank Chair

“Our profit result has remained stable, which is exceptionally pleasing when considering our ongoing investment in the digital transformation of our business, which topped $30 million for the year.

“The business transformation process has generated pace in the last financial year as we move closer to the delivery of a new core banking system in the coming calendar year.

“The system migration will be a landmark milestone for the business and position Greater Bank to respond to a competitive environment and meet the evolving needs of our regulators and customers.”

In additional to the core banking platform, significant inroads were made regarding Greater Bank’s digital offering over the past financial year with the delivery of Apple Pay and Google Pay, the launch of a new website, while significant development work continues on Greater Bank’s new mobile app.

Monetary policy measures also saw the official cash rate continue to fall, finishing the year at an unprecedented 0.10%, which presented opportunities to pass on reductions to customers throughout the year.

Mr Russell said that while low interest rates and high provisions of liquidity across the industry had the desired economic effect with record levels of refinancing across the market, it also resulted in the most competitive lending market seen in recent years.

“Changes in the official cash rate remain a key consideration for our interest rates, however we remain cognisant of other costs associated with funding and servicing loans, and ensuring we continue to meet regulatory responsibilities. A consideration for the conflicting interests of both borrowing and depositing customers is equally important when making any decision on rate changes.

“While these conflicting considerations can challenge our decision making around interest rates, our mutuality remains a competitive advantage. Our profits are not distributed to shareholder but reinvested into our business to provide better value products and services, develop our technological platforms to ensure we continue to service our customers well into the future and to foster and support the communities in which we operate.”

Mr Russell said the business’ ingoing investment in the community was again imperative in a year where many people and businesses across its regions were impacted by the ongoing pandemic.

“As a customer-owned bank, supporting the communities that support us has been fundamental to our operations for more than 75 years and remains an important pillar of our business strategy.

“Our Community Engagement Strategy continues to formalise our community support through the ongoing sponsorship and engagement with a range of groups, activities and events across sport, education, arts and culture, health and the environment.

“In addition, Greater Charitable Foundation continues to operate to improve the life outcomes of families and communities throughout NSW and South-East Queensland. Since its establishment in 2011, the Foundation has committed more than $9 million in funding to support 31 charitable organisations, providing a direct benefit to more than 32,000 people.

Looking to 2021 and beyond, CEO Scott Morgan said that the economy’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the focus on delivering banking solutions that genuinely meet the needs of customers will continue to drive and shape the business operations.

“Broadly, we have already seen some positive economic signs in recent months as COVID-19 restrictions ease across the state and nation. The resumption of travel will be a significant stimulus for the economy, while record low interest rates will ensure the housing boom we are currently experiencing, particularly across regional NSW, is expected to continue for some time yet,” Mr Morgan said.

“As we move through the current financial year and beyond, our underlying philosophy of providing customers and the communities we serve with banking solutions that genuinely meet their needs, will continue to guide our operations.

Scott Morgan, Greater Bank CEO.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the themes that are driving us down the path of digitisation and self-service capabilities, as well as the investment we are making to deliver the program.

“Meeting our longer-term vision of merging with Newcastle Permanent also remains a high priority as we work through the process to create one of Australia’s largest customer-owned banks. Our collective capabilities and capacity will enable us to invest more in technology and innovation, and offer great value for our customers.

“We will continue with our optimistic and considered approach to ensure the long-term success of the Bank, while balancing this with supporting the current needs of our diverse and loyal customer base.”

Greater Bank now serves more than 274,000 customers across NSW and South-East Queensland.

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