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ASB Makes Investment In Business Banking Market

ASB Bank Makes Significant Investment In Business Banking Market Following Record Growth

Statement made by James Mitchell, Head of Relationship Banking And Financial Services, ASB BANK

ASB Bank’s Business Banking division is capitalising on its strongest year of growth to date with the most significant investment since the division was established 12 years ago.

To the end of our last financial year, June 2003 our Business Banking division grew 20% around the country. Our fastest growing region was the Lower North Island which grew 37% last year. We started at zero back in 1988, and are now growing faster than the rest of the market.

ASB Bank is now a key banker to the business community. Lending to the business, commercial and institutional sectors increased by 12% to $3.7billion last year.

Our Institutional Banking division working in partnership with our parent, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, deals with listed companies and those in the public sector. This division now has some form of banking relationship with around 40% of customers in this sector.

We are now at a stage where we can capitilise on our strong growth, and we will invest across all areas of the Business Banking division to maximise this growth. Our first step has been to introduce a new Corporate Banking division to focus on the medium to large segment of the business market. This allows us to better understand the more complex needs of these larger clients so we can grow this segment more aggressively.

We are also significantly increasing staff numbers in both Commercial and Corporate Banking to create greater capacity for business acquisition and to enhance specialist product support for our business customers.

Thirdly, to support the specialist needs of the larger and more complex customers the new Corporate Banking division caters to, we are enhancing our Internet functionality. Business Banking has seen a recent surge in growth of our online customers to the extent that Fastnet Office Internet Banking recorded an increase in customer numbers and usage of 30% last year, due to leading edge services such as Financial Markets Online. By making these investments now, we expect to double our market share in the next five years.

To achieve this goal we will continue to follow the same formula that has worked across the Bank. Our customer retention and growth is at its strongest ever, and research tells us that this is because we consistently deliver what customers want; excellence in customer service, and technology leadership. This makes us focus closely on understanding individual customer needs, and meeting them with appropriate products and service standards. The success of this approach is highlighted by the results of the University of Auckland’s Colgate Report.

For the third consecutive year ASB Bank Business Banking had the highest number of satisfied customers of all the banks, an achievement unmatched by any of the major banks since the Report began in 1998.

While our customer retention and growth is at its strongest ever, we are not complacent about the future. The investment we are making now is to ensure this customer satisfaction and growth continues across the market.

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