Business South January 2024

| 41 T T Russell Fredric Brace of awards for NZ-owned bank SBS chief executive, Mark McLean, and Helen Robinson, project manager, at the site of the planned Hawthorndale development in Southland. SBS Bank has a long and proud history of supporting the communities it operates in. Southland: SBS REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT Wholly New Zealand-owned by its customers, SBS Bank has marked a year of continued growth along with being recognised in more industry awards. Part of SBS Group, SBS Bank was named the Cooperative/Mutual of the Year at the 2023 Cooperative Business New Zealand Awards, as well as receiving the Canstar First Home Buyers Bank of the Year Award for the second year consecutively. Canstar researches thousands of products from hundreds of financial and related institutions, comparing price and features, to provide a quick and easy way for consumers to make informed comparisons. In addition to banking and home loans, the Invercargill-headquartered SBS Group offers insurance, consumer finance and wealth management through SBS Insurance, Finance Now and SBS Wealth, with total assets of $6.25 billion. Its origin and history as the Southland Building Society goes back more than 150 years, but the business has undergone considerable transformation since becoming a registered bank in 2008, when it held $2.5 billion in assets. SBS now offers a network of branches and digital services supporting Kiwis throughout New Zealand. This growth and expansion of services has not come at the expense of the personal touch. Chief executive Mark McLean says SBS Bank’s branches are staffed five days-a-week, with the added bonus of its call centre operating seven-days-a-week staffed by Kiwis complete with a Southland twang, which comes as a surprise to some callers. Because SBS Bank operates on a mutual model, meaning its customers are its owners, it delivers value to these customers through better-than-market interest rates on loans or investments. This model is different from a corporate banking structure where dividends are paid to shareholders offshore. “All our profits stay right here in New Zealand, which means we can ensure we give to our communities and remain focused on being here for New Zealanders at all stages of their lives,” Mark says. As of September 30 this year, SBS Bank held $4.3 billion in customer deposits, lending of $5.3 billion and SBS Wealth has $1.4 billion of funds under management. In addition, more than 8,500 people were added to the SBS Bank family and nearly 1,500 first home buyers were helped into their own home in the last 12 months. “We’ve had a very strong year and that continued into the first six months [of 2023] through into September, with SBS Bank outpacing the national home lending industry growth rate of three to four per cent a year, by three times [about 12%] in a subdued market. We are obviously taking market share off our competitors,” Mark says. “The Southland secret is out of the bag, and the more we take our story across the country, the more people want to bank with us.” Despite the challenge of first home buyers saving for their first home in a market that has seen house prices skyrocket during the past decade, SBS Bank has an unwavering commitment to help its customers achieve their dream. “We truly believe that the Kiwi dream of owning your home is still well and truly alive and that, with the right support and guidance, people can get there.” SBS Bank has also worked hard to look after its investment customers, with market-leading term deposit rates. It has led the market for term investments several times over the past two years, with the latest offering last month being 6.7% per annum return on a 12-month term. “That’s an example of the bank being responsive and focused on rewarding our investment customer after years of a low interest rate environment,” Mark says. SBS Bank has a long and proud history of supporting the communities it operates in. It provides support to a wide range of organisations and causes including sport and recreation, arts and culture. Examples include Ronald McDonald House Family Room at Southland Hospital, Hawthorndale Care Village and Southland Loss and Grief Centre. “These are great initiatives and great services in the communities that our customers belong to and we love to get behind those groups and support Kiwis doing great things in our backyard.” Supporting our community in times of loss and grief from any life change Open Monday - Friday, 10am - 4pm Drop in or contact us to discuss your situation 17 The Crescent, Invercargill. P: 03 214 0393