Good banks help communities prosper through the good times and the bad, said the leader of Australia’s fourth largest bank.
Ross McEwan, Group CEO and Managing Director of National Australia Bank Limited, said banking at its core is still a relationship business that emphasises the bond between banker and customer.
“I have worked in finance for 35 years and, in my view, that’s what good banks do. And when we serve our customers and communities well, we succeed as a company,” Ross said.
His business philosophy is not just words. He also puts it in action, with NAB mounting community-building activities left and right.
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NAB’s most recent activities include helping people impacted by floods in New South Wales, supporting housing initiatives, and voicing out support for indigenous representation.
Ross ascended to the rank of CEO in 2019 following decades of executive experience with AXA, the Commonwealth Bank, and RBS.
Investing in people
His mettle as a business leader was tested when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world in 2020, a phenomenon that did not have any response playbook.
“It’s different to anything I’ve dealt with in my career,” he said. “But there are still some lessons we can take from past crises to help us navigate today’s crisis and build a better bank for the future, for our customers, our colleagues and the community.”
Ross admitted that it was his first time, in over three decades, to experience the huge disruption brought by the pandemic.
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“The one certainty of the future is that the world we operate in will look different to what it does now. It goes to the importance of having strong relationships with your customers. We are investing in our NAB colleagues, to ensure they have the skills to continue supporting customers through change,” Ross said.
Still, at the heart of his response to the pandemic are the people and the community, showing the kind of leadership he brings to the table.
“Our job is to serve customers well, make sure they're in a great financial position and able to do the things that they want to do – now and in the future,” Ross said.
As the top leader of one of Australia’s biggest banks, Ross’s mission is to putt NAB back on the top of the continent’s banking landscape.
With a community-centric approach to banking, it is not impossible for him to achieve his goal.