SBS Bank will keep its regional branches open – CEO

The bank also makes it easier for Kiwis to buy their first homes

SBS Bank will keep its regional branches open – CEO

SBS Bank has confirmed its commitment to maintaining its regional banks, as more physical bank branches in New Zealand continue to close or reduce their operating hours.

According to a KPMG report released in March, there were 144 fewer retail bank branches in New Zealand in 2021 than in 2020, with 84 branches closing down between 2019 and 2020.

In 2020, SBS said it would merge its Hastings and Napier branches to form a Hawke’s Bay branch from Hastings, with opening hours changed at some other banks.

At the company’s annual general meeting on Wednesday, SBS Bank Chairman Joe O’Connell said SBS had no plans to shut any existing branches, Stuff reported.

SBS reported an operating surplus of $61.3 million for the year ending March 2022, up $55.2 million from the previous year.

O’Connell said the group would be investing in new technology to make it easier for its members to communicate with the group as well as develop new products for first-home buyers.

SBS has recently strengthened its relationship with Kāinga Ora by becoming a participating lender in the First Home Partner shared ownership scheme, joining founding banks Westpac and BNZ.

Launched in 2021, the scheme means first-home buyers initially share ownership of their home with Kāinga Ora, with the ability to buy the agency out over time. The maximum contribution Kāinga Ora will make towards a home purchase is 25% or $200,000 – whichever is lower.

SBS Group CEO Mark McLean said the tie-up was a testament to its strong team and its commitment to helping members buy their first home. The bank was already a participating lender in the Kāinga Ora-administered First Home Loan scheme.

“We look forward to welcoming even more homebuyers to SBS Bank,” McLean told Stuff.