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Bank looks ahead after 118 years of operation

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    Newcastle Permanent has experienced countless milestones over its 118 years in operation – many of which the country’s younger generations now take for granted. But, when COVID-19 hit, the customer-owned bank quickly ramped up its investment in the digital space, proving that even one of the country’s oldest financial institutions is capable of keeping up with the rapid pace of change now in the market.

    “While many others in our industry hit pause last year, our team at Newcastle Permanent did not miss a beat in 2020,” said CEO Bernadette Inglis. “This means we are well placed to continue to progress our customer-centric service and growth strategy, road-mapped over the forward three years.”

    The past 118 years has brought many changes to the country, its economy and the way banks operate. Inglis said the bank had some staff who had worked there for as long as six decades.

    “Our four longest serving employees have together amassed 183 years of Newcastle Permanent experience,” she said. “Walking down memory lane with them was an incredible experience as they have worked at Newcastle Permanent through the birth of decimal currency, plastic notes, gold coins, plastic cards, computers, the ATM, the first credit cards, account numbers, the internet, BPAY, phone banking, BSBs, electronic transactions and EFTPOS and the phasing in, then out, of one and two cent coins and cheques – to name a few Newcastle Permanent milestones.”

    In recent years, Newcastle Permanent has entered into “ground-breaking partnerships” with Athena Home Loans and Fintech Australia while continuing its digital evolution. Other milestones include a brand refresh, executing a strong financial position and a close to $23 million contribution from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation to supporting communities across its footprint, said Inglis.

    The bank’s main focus for the 2020s will be continuing its commitment to customers, she said.

    Read more: The value of customer-owned banks

    “As an industry there are significant learnings from the last 12 months that, through careful consideration in future planning, will help the industry and individual organisations like Newcastle Permanent become more resilient for future challenges and better positioned to support customers,” she said. “For us, the events of last year have quickened the pace of our investment, particularly in the digital space.

    “We are optimising our branch network by realigning our branch locations and enhancing our branch layout to support quality customer conversations and complex banking needs. We are enhancing our Customer Contact Centre and have introduced a new telephone platform integrated with Google AI technology, we are championing digital awareness among our customer base by introducing digital coaches.

    “We also have a new mobile banking app on the way, we are bringing our concept branch of the future to life and are using technology to develop tools that make banking easier for customers including digital verification of identity, Docusign and online account opening.

    “Our digital strategy rests at the heart of our long-term thinking and the milestone achievements in this space which, in the last 12 months in particular, has positioned us well to embrace further opportunities and achieve more significant milestones in the years ahead; all for the benefit of our customers.”

    Kate McIntyreKate McIntyre is an online writer for Mortgage Professional Australia. She has a wealth of experience as a storyteller and journalist for a range of leading media outlets, particularly in real estate, property investing and finance. She loves uncovering the heart behind every story and aims to inspire others through the artful simplicity of well-written words.
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