Marnie Baker

THE new managing director of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Australia’s fifth largest and worth more than $5 billion, does not have an office.

Marnie Baker said she decided to give up what was the only office in the bank’s Bendigo headquarters.

“It is one of the decisions I have made, is that I am changing it into a meeting room that can be used by the whole organisation, and a wellbeing room for quiet time, or to meditate,” she said.

“I will be floating through the different floors as I do in other offices elsewhere, and sitting in different parts of the organisation on different days.”

The management-speak name for this arrangement is activity-based working.

As a 30-year veteran at the bank, Ms Baker will already know most of her desk mates.

She said her rise to the top job came at a time of opportunity for the bank. Her focus will be to create more awareness around the business in order to correct a mistaken perception of second tier banks in Australia.

She refers to research that shows 70 per cent of customers of the big four banks don’t believe second tier banks have the capability to meet their needs.

The big four are Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, ANZ and Westpac, and between them they claim almost 40 million customers in Australia.

But all of them have responded to accusations of misconduct at the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has had to defend parts of its rural lending policy at the commission, but the majority of complaints under investigation have been related to incentive-based remuneration.

Ms Baker said she was concerned the commission would lead to further regulation of banking.

“I can say personally as I have been observing what has been coming up before the commission, I have felt disappointed and some of the behaviours that have now come to light from some organisations,” she said.

“I am very hopeful that we are going to see a change come from this process that the industry has been going through, bring people back to thinking more about the customer and the impacts on customers of every decision that is made or not made.”

She said she would like to see a simplification of regulation that makes the rights of customers clear in dealing with financial institutions. But her job will be to spruik the benefits of banking with an organisation that still have its roots in the community which it serves.

“We are really proud to be the only bank headquartered outside a capital city, to be headquartered in a regional city,” she said.

“What you are now seeing playing out around culture and the royal commission, misconduct and that sort of thing, stems from people within large organisations losing touch with their own
customers.

“Going shopping or going to the football with my kids, everyone knows I work for the bank and they will tell me if we are getting something right or wrong.”

– Sharon Kemp