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Changing customer behaviour means we too must change

As a customer-owned banking institution, we need to change to meet new demands.

By Terry Millett, CEO

Just over 10 years ago the iPhone was released. Little did we know at the time that this new smartphone would be the catalyst that changed how we lived our lives. The internet was now in the palm of our hands.

Fast forward to 2018 and it’s now normal to book an international flight from your phone, ‘google’ information while you’re at a restaurant with friends, and do your banking from a phone while you’re waiting for your coffee order.

And that’s what’s changed. We’re no longer restricted to walking into a branch or sitting at a PC to manage our finances. We can now do this 24/7 from the phone in our pocket—and the majority of our customers do.

The evolution of online and digital banking has been nothing short of phenomenal. And when you look at the benefits it provides, it’s certainly not surprising why it has become so popular. It’s so convenient to manage your money when and where we want to, and not be dictated by branch operating hours.

The flip side of this digital progress has been the significant decline in over-the-counter branch transactions. As our customers modify their banking behaviour, the need for them to regularly venture into a branch for routine transactions and service is now unnecessary for the majority of customers.

Customers being helped in branch
The way customers use our branches is changing.

As an organisation that is 100% owned by our customers, not shareholders like the major banks, we take the responsibility of investing our members’ funds efficiently and responsibly very seriously.

We have an ongoing commitment to providing banking solutions that meet the needs of our customers for the long-term sustainability of the business. 

There has obviously been a significant shift to the use of online and digital banking. This is why in recent years we have made the difficult decision to close some branches where there are other branches close by. It would be financially irresponsible if we left expensive infrastructure under-utilised. As a customer-owned business, we must ensure we evolve as the world around us—and as our customers—evolve, or risk becoming irrelevant. 

Newcastle Permanent has the largest branch network in the Hunter region when compared with any other financial institution. And we continue to invest in our branch network, recently opening new branches in the growth areas of Fletcher, Medowie and Edgeworth. 

We’ll continue to invest in our branch network because the new design of our branches is no longer focused on simple over-the-counter transactions. Instead, it facilitates face-to-face service for more complex and less common transactions and to demonstrate new digital channels and features to provide customers with more choice in how they can conduct their banking. 

There is no doubt that the future of banking will look very different than it does today – but whatever changes occur in the future our customers’ well-being will be at the centre of everything we do.

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