THE Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has moved to reassure investors its technology investments are key to winning over new generations of home loan customers.
It has used a public mid-year results presentation on Monday to allay any concerns about multi-million dollar investments in fintech amid a race to win over generations Y and Z.
The bank recently finished a $116 million buyout of fintech startup Ferocia to help it move into a home loan space targeting generation Y and Z, which will likely make up 70 per cent of Australia's workforce by 2025.
Those generations want banks to meet them on their terms, Ms Baker told the Advertiser later on Monday.
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"I class myself as part of the older cohort too and I can relate to ... people [who] don't necessarily have the appreciation of what this younger generation are seeking from their financial institutions," she said.
"I've spent enough time with this cohort, I've spent enough time in this business, to get a really good appreciation of how aligned this proposition is with what consumers of the future are looking for."
The bank's embrace of fintech is both to keep up with and outpace its competitors, Ms Baker said.
"There's a component of both but really it is to get ahead. The future is going to be here before we know it. We need to be there."
The bank expects to unveil a new weapon in that push this year when it launches new platform 'Up Home', which Ms Baker said was being specifically designed for "digital natives".
"It's not just picking up a home loan product and putting it online. We have actually worked through these processes and used a lot of the functionality from the Tic:Toc platform, which we have an equity investment in," she said.
Online home loan supplier Tic:Toc should not be confused with unrelated social media company TikTok.
"The fintechs are doing some really cool stuff. They're honing in on parts of the customer experience and lifting the bar," Ms Baker said.
"I find that pretty exciting. It lifts the bar right across the industry and I am keen to be at the forefront of it."
The comments came on the same day Ms Baker addressed the bank's outlook including the prospect of rising interest rates in 2022.
The bank is ready for whatever comes its way on that front, Ms Baker said.
"We are fairly confident we will get through this next period as we have the last 163 years," she told the Advertiser.
"There will be some headwinds but also, hopefully, some tailwinds too. We are looking into an increasing cash rate environment, which we haven't seen in a long period of time. Our organisation is leveraged to benefit from that."
Earlier this month, Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe warned that the pandemic is not yet behind Australia.
He warned that rising inflation in some parts of the world had added an "element of uncertainty to the outlook".
"We also face the challenge of lifting productivity growth, including through investing in the workforce skills and technologies that are needed to generate sustained increases in real wages," he said.
"And over time and as conditions allow, we will need to navigate a return to more normal settings of monetary policy."
All of that said, Mr Lowe remained optimistic about Australia's prospects.
"Our economy has weathered the pandemic much better than was expected, jobs growth is strong and unemployment is low, household and business balance sheets are generally in good shape and wages growth is picking up," he said.
"These are all welcome developments."
BENDIGO and Adelaide Bank net profits have surged by more than 30 per cent even as its managing director warns the economic outlook "remains challenging".
"We need to intensify our efforts to meet these challenges," Marnie Baker told the Australian Stock Exchange this morning during the release of the bank's half yearly results.
"And we will."
The bank's balances are healthy thanks in part to rising levels of residential lending and rebounding confidence during the COVID-19 economic rebuild.
Its cash earnings for the first half of the financial year rose 18.7 per cent compared to the same time 12 months ago, with statutory net profit up 31.7 percent to $321.3 million.
Total income was up 2.9 percent to $873.4 million.
Ms Baker said the Omicron wave had not left as many customers in trouble as previous waves and the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021.
"The onset of Omicron has only seen 25 new retail customers require some form of assistance, underscoring the resilience of our customers and their financial position," she told the ASX.
"Notwithstanding these achievements, we cannot afford to sit back and relax.
"Despite the continued above system growth in residential lending, overall lending growth has fallen behind system, driven by seasonal factors in agribusiness and a decline in our business lending book this half, with total lending growing at 4.3 percent compared with system growth of 8.3 percent."
Earlier this month, the bank announced it would bring its business banking and agribusiness divisions together to better focus on growth.
"The search for an experienced executive to lead this team has begun," Ms Baker said.
"Additionally, Bruce Speirs has been appointed chief operating officer with a focus on reducing complexity, strengthening processes, and improving productivity across the bank.
Ms Baker said the bank would continue to focus on increasing its efficiency over the next half of the financial year and a continued acquisition of tech firm Ferocia and digital bank Up.
More to come.
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