Posts Tagged “innovation”

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The Newcastle Permanent is marking 115 years in business. To the uninitiated, give us a snapshot of how it began?

Newcastle Permanent began in 1903 when a group of hardworking people who couldn’t get a home loan from the banks—because they weren’t wealthy—created a cooperative building society. They put their savings together to help everyone in the cooperative access a home loan and eventually everyone did. Fast forward 115 years and this is still the ethos of what we do today – helping people buy their own home.

The biggest milestones for the bank to date?

We now have more than $10 billion in assets and last financial year our loan growth exceeded that of the major banks. This asset portfolio makes us the largest customer-owned financial institution in NSW and the second-largest in Australia.

How many members do you have and what shape is the business in?

We have more than 320,000 customers predominantly in northern and central west NSW with strong growth in Sydney. We are the financially strongest customer-owned banking institution in Australia in terms of net assets.

The toughest moments for the building society in the past decade?

A stand out is the Global Financial Crisis. While Australia weathered the GFC storm relatively well, our government cooperated with an international banking regulatory framework to provide further protections for the global banking industry. This resulted in significant regulatory reform and oversight for Australian financial services operators. Add to this the need to respond to rapidly changing customer preferences for digital banking and it has certainly been an interesting decade.

And biggest highlight?

Reaching $10 billion in assets had been such an achievement, and for a business based right here in the Hunter!

The Royal Commission into Misconduct into the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has started and the big four are in the firing line. Will Newcastle Permanent make a submission?

It’s only early days, but at this stage is does not appear that we’ll be asked to participate in the Royal Commission.

Will the findings of the commission, due in 2018, affect your operations?

The Terms of Reference of the Royal Commission are quite broad and inquire into banking, superannuation, and the financial services industry. At the moment it is not really possible to predict what the outcomes and timings of the Royal Commission’s recommendations will be. However, it’s reasonable to expect there’ll be changes that will affect the entire industry, including Newcastle Permanent.

How can the Perm compete with the big four?

Our business model is different because we’re customer-owned. We don’t distribute profits to shareholders (because we don’t have shareholders), but instead reinvest our profits into the business to benefit our customers and their communities by keeping our loan and deposit rates very competitive.

What is the Perm doing via its Charitable Foundation that has a real impact?

This year the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation is also celebrating a milestone, marking 15 years of supporting our community. In this time the Foundation has provided more than $17.5 million to more than 420 life-changing and community initiatives.

Why is there nostalgia for the Perm in the Hunter?

The fact that we are often called “the Perm” says a lot! I think it’s the simple fact that we’ve always been here. Our head office is in the CBD, we employ almost 1,000 staff, we’re active in supporting our community, and at some stage of their life most Novocastrians have had a bank account with us. We’re intrinsically tied to the memories and lives of Novocastrians.

The Perm has had memorable ad campaigns, but did you expect the Sunshine Over My Shoulder song, created by local business The Proverbials, to become so loved?

We knew the 2012 ad campaign was special; majestically showcasing our region and how lucky we are that we can serve our region. But we never thought in our wildest dreams that the song would resonate so well and become a wedding song!

You worked at one of the big four before the Perm. How do the two differ?

At a big four all your work is devoted to lining the pockets of shareholders. At Newcastle Permanent, we’re all about people. Our mission statement is we are “Here for good” and that means for our customers, our people, the community, and the long term. This was a pleasant culture change coming from a big four where the community wasn’t even a consideration!

What innovation is ahead for the Perm?

Our customers are rapidly shifting their preferences to online banking. I think the last time our industry saw such a shake-up was when computers became the norm more than 30 years ago. We’re working towards a time where our customers, if they wish, will not need to visit a branch to do any of their banking—and that day isn’t too far away.

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/5247429/a-permanent-fixture/

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A messenger from another planet was spreading the gospel of change in Newcastle two weeks ago.

Her name: Kaila Colbin.

Her message: prepare yourself for great technological change.

Colbin is an ambassador for Singularity University, a Silicon Valley think tank and business incubator that aims to educate people about technology change in society.

Singularity University has planned its first Australian Summit for February 2018 in Sydney, with several speakers covering topics on technology and change.

Colbin, who lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, curated the organisation’s first summit in New Zealand.

Among her chief interests is artificial intelligence (AI).

“I’m interested in technological unemployment. What are we doing about jobs, that are being replaced by AI,” Colbin says. “Do we have systems, processes and structures in place to retrain people for new jobs. Are we looking effectively at all the possible policy responses to that, in terms of minimum basic income or affirmative action for humans, or a whole range of possibilities we can be thinking about now.”

Among the topics that come into that discussion: provision of a universal basic income and continuous learning.

Colbin points to the notion of society changing its lifestyle model – “Right now, the first third of our life is education, the second third is work and the third is retirement. We have to move away from that model and towards a model where we take those things and we slice them up into thin slices and we shuffle them together.

“So we do a bit of education and them we deploy that out in the real world, then we do some more education and we deploy that in the real world.

“So instead of you’ve learned to be your thing . . . you are that thing for the rest of your life, it is a model of continuous adaptation for the rest of your life because we don’t know what jobs are going to look like 10 or 15 years from now.”

Colbin was keen to visit Newcastle, even for day, because she had heard much about it from the ReNew Newcastle project created by Marcus Westbury. Colbin is heavily involved in the regeneration of Christchurch.

She called it “one of the most fascinating cities to live in in the world”. And acknowledged it has much in common with Newcastle.

“We have similarities in collective sense – our unique position, our scale, the society that we have, the kind of people we have. We have the opportunity to reimagine the way we want to live together in a new way,” Colbin says. “We have the opportunity to be innovative in a way that larger cities struggle with.”

Colbin addressed several groups in Newcastle in her short stay, encouraging attendance the Singular University Australia Summit, where technology and change will be front and centre on the agenda.

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4953443/finding-our-way-into-the-future/

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DURING a visit to Newcastle on Monday night, Premier Mike Baird will confirm that the state government is contributing $9.8 million toward a Hunter Innovation Project, which is also receiving $8 million from backers led by Newcastle City Council and the University of Newcastle.

The most obvious manifestation of the project will be a futuristic glass building opposite Civic Park on the corner of Auckland Street and King Street, land made available by the demolition of the 1923 building, TPI House.

But the innovation project is promising more than bricks and mortar – or in this case glass and steel. In a breakthrough that could bring Newcastle into line with some of the world’s great cities, the innovation project is also promising free public wi-fi as well as broadband fibre connections to at least 250 inner-city businesses.

This is the sort of cutting-edge advantage – or at least catch-up to capital cities – that Newcastle will need to realise the dream of becoming a modern, connected city able to use cheaper land and lower labour costs to win business from cities like Sydney.

The Coalition government embraced this potential after its candidates gained a substantial foothold in the Hunter, but as history has shown, those gains were only shortly held, and were subsequently lost.

Since then, the government has found much of its Hunter program opposed by Labor MPs – who can quite properly claim to be representing the electors who voted for them – and by Labor and Greens councillors who can claim a similar mandate in opposing much of the government’s infrastructure and public transport program from their positions on Newcastle City Council.

While there is nothing new or surprising about Newcastle fighting with the decision-makers in Sydney, there is so much riding on the modernisation of the old city centre that none of the stakeholders in this argument can afford to put political interest in front of the public good.

One look at Hunter Street and surrounds shows even a casual observer that the city is on the move. As controversial as it is, a Hunter Street light rail will surely add to the sense of transformation. We are, hopefully, on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation leap, and we need all of our decision-makers – elected representatives and bureaucrats, in power or out of it – to work together.

Now that would be an innovation.

Source: http://www.theherald.com.au/news/local-news/?page=4