NAB is rolling out its plans to serve rural and regional Australia better, as detailed by CEO Andrew Thorburn in his recent speech before staff, customers, and community leaders in Wagga Wagga. He revealed three major goals:
1. To be proactive
Thorburn vowed to offer agribusiness customers the financial benefit to be able to “offset their Farm Management Deposit (FMD) against their agricultural lending”. The offset will be in a discount form to their lending interest rate. NAB is writing to all its customers holding an FMD to advise them of the offset.
NAB also supports FMDs to be used as a lending security. The idea poses some challenges, including legislative change, but it would provide farmers access to extra security as capital to lend against. NAB has already spoken to federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud on both points.
2. To do more for drought victims
NAB will no longer charge a higher default interest rate to customers affected by drought. The bank has made donations to the Country Women’s Association of New South Wales and Queensland Country Women’s Association for their drought relief funds.
3. To continue support in changing times
NAB’s effort to help rural and regional communities to grow includes bringing sustainable face-to-face banking services to them, which also looks at the future of branches in remote areas. The bank is looking at the possibility of forming partnerships and alliances to sustain those services.
Over the next few months, Thorburn and members of NAB’s senior team will visit towns and communities around the country to personally hear people’s views.
What prompted the efforts?
Rural and regional Australia is central to the country’s culture and economic history, according to Thorburn. “Its people helped build the foundations of Australia,” he said.
Regional areas contribute 30%, or about $500bn per year, to the country’s GDP, and agricultural industries create 1.6 million jobs.
Regional areas represent 40% of NAB’s business customer base. And one in three farmers choose NAB; a privilege the bank takes seriously. “Our board and executive teams are determined to get out to hear first-hand from these customers and bankers, what we can do better,” Thorburn said.
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