Westpac wants bigger slice
WESTPAC will make a play for a bigger slice of the market in deposits, small-to-medium business lending and wealth management as a strategy to deliver revenue growth in the face of a rapidly slowing banking environment.
WESTPAC will make a play for a bigger slice of the market in deposits, small-to-medium business lending and wealth management as a strategy to deliver revenue growth in the face of a rapidly slowing banking environment.The plan to boost the bank's share of key markets is expected to be mapped out by chief executive Gail Kelly when she hands down her bank's first-half profit result early next month.It also forms the heart of the strategy for Westpac's newly formed Australian financial services unit that houses the bulk of the bank's domestic retail banking and wealth businesses.Despite rising doubts among some investors of Westpac's commitment to support myriad brands, Mrs Kelly is expected to argue that the multi-brand strategy forms a key plank in growing a share of the banking businesses.Dubbed internally by Westpac executives as "one-in-four", the strategy aims to lift the bank's market share across a range of products to match the bank's broader 25 per cent footprint of the Australian market.One of Mrs Kelly's most senior group executives, Peter Hanlon, has been asked to oversee the project as well as provide the groundwork for the formation of the Australian financial services businesses that include St George, Westpac's retail brands and BT Wealth."Accepting the fact there is low growth in some areas there's two things we can do look for areas of higher growth and look for areas where we are under-penetrated," Mr Hanlon told BusinessDay."I look at these other product sets because that to me is where the revenue is going to come from," he said.The move also shows how banks have been forced to adjust to a new environment where credit growth is forecast to remain subdued for the next few years.Since the onset of the global financial crisis, business and consumers have taken a more cautious approach to borrowing and are working to sharply reduce leverage.This is forcing banks to make their existing franchise more productive at the same time as sharply reducing costs.Westpac and cross-town rival ANZ have both outlined wholesale job cuts, with the loss of hundreds of jobs.Among internal targets mapped out by Westpac, the bank is planning to hold its position at between 24 per cent and 26 per cent of the mortgage market.However, it is planning to boost its share of deposits from the low 20 per cent level, while it expects to lift its share of lending to small and mid-sized business to 25 per cent from about 20 per cent at present.Small business transactions such as deposits will also be targeted.Westpac has also set down an aspirational target of 15 per cent share of the nation's $1.3 trillion-plus superannuation and investment market over time. This would represent a substantial jump on the bank's current 5 per cent share of the market."To go to 15 per cent of what will be a much bigger number over the next five to seven years well, that's a prize worth going after," Mr Hanlon said.While the bulk of transactional banking is moving online, Mr Hanlon said the bank's 1000-plus branch network was important for the market share boost because branches were increasingly handling more complex queries.Over the next few years, staffing inside branches would change to reflect the bank's focus on growth areas, including more wealth management and business specialists, he said.Still, the Westpac move is expected to face stiff resistance from rivals including market heavyweight Commonwealth Bank, which has already spent billions of dollars on cutting-edge technology that it believes will help it win over more business customers.