SBS Bank has used the economic challenges since Covid-19 to sharpen up business and concentrate on what is working well within its banking sector.
Following its AGM in Invercargill earlier this week, chief executive Shaun Drylie said in reacting to the Covid situation they worked out that, “if you don’t act quickly it may be that you will have to react a lot more severely down the track.”
While 10 positions have been disestablished across SBS’s nationwide branch network, some new positions have been created in the Invercargill-based contact centre.
First started in Invercargill 151 years ago, SBS now has 15 branches nationwide, with 14% of all home loans coming from Southland.
One of the features that set SBS apart from its competitors, was that it offered a reversed mortgage, and this was one of the areas of focus, with a new “re-energized” equity product available, Shaun said.
In giving back to the community, SBS has in the past two years, also reconditioned 60 of its old computers, and passed them onto schools and those in need.
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Shaun said more customers were choosing to bank through digital and virtual channels, and this had increased a further 20% since lockdown.
“The older demographic are starting to become more confident and use it more frequently,” he said.
Before Covid, SBS had an average of 28 member visits a day to most branches across its network, with a couple of exceptions including its largest branch in Invercargill that had significantly higher foot traffic.
In the 18 months prior to the lockdown, staff assisted transactions in-branch had reduced by 17% and internet banking registrations had increased by 18%.
Following an extensive consultation process, SBS will retain its ‘new normal’ opening hours of 9am to 3pm across most of its branch network, with additional services available outside these hours by appointment.
Key exceptions are the Invercargill branch, which will be open daily from 9am to 4.30pm, and the Windsor Branch, which will be open daily from 1pm to 4.30pm.
“While we have worked constructively with our people to reach the decisions we have made, they are still really tough on our close-knit team.
We are working closely with each affected individual around what specific support we can provide that would best help them at this time. These decisions are never made lightly, but we believe it is important to appropriately respond to change to best serve the long term interests of our Members (customers) who are also our owners under SBS’ mutual structure,” Shaun said.
SBS has strong capital reserves and liquidity to meet and support members’ needs but was taking prudent steps to ensure the bank was well-positioned to continue to drive sustainable growth into the future, he said.