New Bendigo Bank managing director Marnie Baker driven by a customer focus

Marnie Baker was announced as new Managing Director of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank in March. Picture: ELSPETH KERNEBONE.
Marnie Baker was announced as new Managing Director of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank in March. Picture: ELSPETH KERNEBONE.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s new managing director Marnie Baker would far prefer to see tax cuts to small businesses prioritised over those to big.

This fits within the customer and community focused ethos that has driven Ms Baker in her 30 years with the bank.

In March Ms Baker was appointed new managing director of the bank, following the resignation of Mike Hirst. She began the role on July 1.

“As a big business, of course, you’re wanting to see tax cuts, because the more profit you can make, the more profit you can actually put back, in our case, into doing good in communities right across Australia,” she said.

“If I was to look at it as a priority choice, then I’d much prefer to see those tax cuts going to the smaller businesses who are the very backbone of the nation and deserve to have those tax cuts so they can continue to do the good work that they do.”

Since she began in 1989, Ms Baker has been involved in everything, from insurance, to human resources, to insurance. She has held executive positions since 2000.

“I think I’ve probably gone around the organisation twice in that time,” she said.

“Before coming into this role I was chief customer officer for the past three years before that, so very central to who I am is the customer.”

It’s the fit between the bank’s values and her own which has kept Ms Baker there for so long.

“The people in this organisation and myself as part of the team here, really do believe in what we’re doing here,” she said.

“In putting the interests of our customers first, in the amazing work that’s done in communities right across Australia to strengthen and sustain those communities in the longer term.”

The banking sector has been notoriously troubled of late, with a current Royal Commission shining a light into banking misconduct.

And the Bendigo Bank has not escaped unblemished.

On Monday last week, Rural Bank Managing Director Alexandra Gartmann faced tough questions about its lending practises.

While former managing director Mike Hirst was critical of the Comission, Ms Baker is positive about the process, and hopeful about its results.

“What has transpired with the Royal Commission has probably supported the need for it,” she said.

“If we come out from the Royal Commission with an industry that’s more customer focused and customer-centric... in putting the interests of consumers first, then [it] will have been worth it.”

It’s these interests that drive Ms Baker. Financial inclusion for all is one of the things that drives her belief in the Bendigo Bank.

Along with education and healthcare, she sees this as one of the keys to individual success.

“I’m really passionate and quite serious about financial inclusion… that means accessibility, it means appropriate products and advice, and it also means that financial education, awareness, literacy,” she said.

“It really is amazing to be able to get out of bed in the morning and really do a job that’s making a real difference and with a real purpose. “