Bendigo and Adelaide Bank annual general meeting.

BENDIGO and Adelaide Bank chairman Robert Johanson noted the gender equal makeup of the board at the bank’s annual general meeting this week.

Welcoming shareholders and former directors to the meeting, Mr Johanson said the first female director, Jenny Dawson, was at the meeting.

“Her sex was a notable feature when she started, but no longer,” he said.

Women now made up “half of the voting members of the board which is worth noting, and then forgetting”.

Mr Johanson has signalled he will not serve as chairman beyond the end of his tenure which expires next year. He is likely to name a successor before then.

Mr Johanson also spoke about the drought, particularly in relation to how environmental conditions affected farms and their business.

He said banks needed to have a longer term view for agriculture than for other sectors.

Lending practices to a number of Queensland farmers saw the bank come under the scrutiny of the Financial Services Royal Commision this year.

Managing director Marnie Baker said the royal commission had led to a challenging year for banks from which Bendigo Bank was well positioned to benefit because it retained customer trust.

Mr Johanson addressed the findings from the Productivity Commission, noting the competitive disadvantage of non-major banks in the absence of a level playing field.

“It has been said that in Australia we really only have one major bank; it just operates under four different colours,” he said.

“If trust in banking is to be restored, it is crucial that organisations with different objectives and standards are able to compete on a level playing field and customers can choose accordingly.”