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Author: Craig Eardley

Greater farewells CEO Don Magin

Don Magin will step down as CEO of the Greater Building Society today (Friday August 22) after almost 28 years service, including six and a half years as CEO.

Two Greater chairmen this week paid tribute to Mr Magin.

Current chairman Wayne Russell said Mr Magin was leaving The Greater in very good financial shape, well positioned to continue to take on the big banks to benefit people in NSW and South East Queensland. The Greater’s net assets are now above $5 billion. Against the trend, The Greater received a favourable review by ratings agency Standard and Poors at the end of 2013.

“Don was appointed just before the global financial crisis and has ably steered The Greater through difficult economic times and a period where the major banks significantly increase their dominance in financial services,” Mr Russell said.

“Don was instrumental in laying the foundations of The Greater’s strong customer service focus as well as its well regarded marketing and IT capabilities,” he said.

The Greater currently enjoys customer satisfaction results as high as 97 percent and has won a Roy Morgan monthly customer satisfaction award for 18 straight months.

After he became assistant general manager in 1989 Mr Magin was instrumental in establishing The Greater’s Newcastle-based call centre that is still in operation today. He introduced The Greater’s holiday and petrol offers which have since been copied by many organisations. The “get a home loan, get a free holiday” offer increased The Greater’s lending by more than 70 per cent in the first year. One of Mr Magin’s first major acts as CEO was signing global comedian Jerry Seinfeld to successfully raise the Greater’s profile as a competitor to the increasingly dominant big banks.

Ian Nelmes was the Greater’s chairman for 22 years and is now the chairman of the Greater Charitable Foundation. He had only recently been appointed as Greater chairman when he poached Mr Magin from BHP to head up The Greater’s IT department in 1986.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that Don’s work to modernise and strengthen The Greater’s core banking systems prevented it from being a takeover target by other financial institutions at that time,” Mr Nelmes said.

Mr Magin lived the mantra of customer owned financial institutions to give back to the communities in which it operates. He has given his work time and private time to support many charities, community organisations and industry associations including Australian Settlements Ltd, the Executive Committee of Alumni of the University of Newcastle, Salvation Army, Prostate Survival Alliance and Newcastle Wesley Mission. Mr Magin was also a driving force behind The Greater’s establishment of the Greater Charitable Foundation in 2011. Funded from The Greater’s profits, it has ready allocated more than $4 million to 11 charity partners.

Mr Nelmes said Mr Magin was much admired and respected by Greater staff. Almost 300 Greater staff gave him a send off at a function in Newcastle on August 15.

Mr Magin said he was looking forward to spending more time with his family. He will remain as Chairman of the Customer Owned Banking Association until November and continue in his roles as a director of Hunter Research Foundation, Hunter Medical Research Institute and Heal for Life Foundation.

The Greater has been like a second family to me and I will particularly miss The Greater’s fantastic staff,” Mr Magin said.

“It has been a privilege to lead a great team to serve our customers,” he said.

Mr Russell said the Board was finalising recruitment for Mr Magin’s replacement but The Greater is in the capable hands of current deputy CEO Greg Taylor. Mr Taylor has just achieved 35 years of service with The Greater and has been Mr Magin’s deputy since mid 2012.