THE BENDIGO BANK is bracing in case more customers seeking support while Australians are trapped in a cycle of pandemic lockdowns.
The bank has so far only seen a "modest" number of people approaching it for help since it restarted support packages in June to coincide with new rounds of lockdowns across Australia's eastern seaboard.
That situation could shift, managing director Marnie Baker said.
"We are watching it very closely given how quickly the environment can change," she said.
Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday that the state had "simply no option" but to extend and tighten the existing Melbourne lockdown.
"This is spreading in an undetected way across the community. We are at a tipping point," he said.
The extension came as the pandemic wreaked havoc in other states too. On Monday alone the ACT extended its restrictions and the Northern Territory brought in snap lockdowns for three cities.
The Bendigo Bank has so far helped 21,621 customer accounts with $6.9 billion in support during the pandemic, newly released figures show.
That included 247 customers by deferring $87 million worth of payments in the latest round of lockdown support that began in June.
Nearly 70 per cent of those needing help by the end of 2020-21 financial year were in New South Wales but customers in Victoria still made up 20 per cent.
Those numbers were a long way from the 13,000 customer accounts in hardship at the peak of economic uncertainty in 2020.
"The thing I will say though is that we are really strongly capitalised to be able to manage through this," Ms Baker said.
The bank is telling its shareholders that uncertainty remains in its predictions for the nation's financial outlook.
Ms Baker expected a hit to Australia's gross domestic product but it was unclear how big that would become, and what that might mean for small and medium sized businesses.
She believed that many Victorian businesses had changed the way they worked in the expectations of more lockdowns and could make it through.
"I'm not saying it will not be tough for them. It will be really hard," Ms Baker said.
Her bank was waiting for developments on the slower-than-expected vaccine rollout, international trade sentiment and the continuing effects of natural disasters and climate change.
"At the same time, we are encouraged by measures introduced by state and federal governments to aid Australia's economic recovery," Ms Baker said.
She expected the bank to give out more loans in the coming year, especially for residential lending and was optimistic about the future of Regional Victoria's economic growth, a "bullish" agricultural sector, better than expected unemployment numbers and strong housing markets.
The bank itself remained in a strong financial position and more people were trusting it with their finances, Ms Baker said.
The bank's full year cash earnings rose 51.1 per cent and statutory net profit climbed 172 per cent.
Nearly 10 per cent more people decided to bank with the group in 2020/21 and the bank has revealed plans to buy out a firm creating cutting edge technology to bring in new generations of banking customers.
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