Martin Barrett to step down as top boss of 50-year-old Auswide Bank

Martin Barrett to step down as top boss of 50-year-old Auswide Bank

Auswide Bank managing director Martin Barrett

After spending a decade overseeing Auswide’s (ASX: ABA) transition from a building society to one of Queensland’s leading regional banks, managing director Martin Barrett has announced he will retire from the role at the end of 2023.

Barrett took control of Auswide, formerly known as Wide Bay Australia, in 2013 as the board of directors adopted a new strategic plan that would see the organisation formally become a bank.

Despite being one of Australia’s newest banks, the company has its roots in Bundaberg-based Burnett Permanent Building Society, which merged with the Maryborough Permanent Building Society in 1979 to establish Wide Bay Capricorn.

The company would exceed $1 billion in assets and loans under management in the 2000-01 financial year, and rebrand to Wide Bay Australia two years later to reflect that its services were reaching customers nationwide.

During Barrett’s 10-year tenure, the bank grew its asset base from $2.6 billion to $4.8 billion, representing a 59 per cent increase.

In an announcement to the market today, Barrett said he would continue in his role as managing director for the remainder of 2023 while the board begins the process of finding a suitable replacement.

“It has been a privilege to lead Auswide Bank over the last 10 years,” Barrett said.

“Together, as a team, we have transformed Auswide Bank into a modern, high-performing regional bank. We have a passion for serving our customers, supporting our local regions and delivering for our shareholders.

“I look forward to working with my great team and the board through to the end of 2023 and thank our customers, staff, Board and shareholders for their strong support.”

Based in Bundaberg, Auswide Bank offers a range of personal and business banking products such as home loans, credit cards, term deposits, insurance, mortgage brokering and more.

While the bank has a strong legacy in regional Queensland, it also has a growing customer base in Southeast Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria.

In its 1HFY23 results, the bank revealed underlying NPAT grew by eight per cent to generate $14.1 million, while its loan book delivered a record annualised growth of 13 per cent - valuing it at $4.1 billion, up from $3.8 billion at 30 June 2022.

The vast majority of loans (95 per cent) were home loans, followed by business loans (1.8 per cent) and consumer loans (1.3 per cent). The company noted that the credit quality of its portfolio is ‘exceptional’ with loans 30 days past due arrears at an historic low of 0.09 per cent.

Meanwhile, the increase in loan books and Net Interest Margin (NIM) helped deliver a net interest revenue of $46.5 million, reflecting a 12.6 per cent increase year-on-year.

Looking ahead, the bank said its strategic focus centres on accelerating its loan book growth and reaching a loan book target of $6 billion by 2025.

“I would like to thank Martin for a decade of extraordinary effort and commitment in growing and reshaping the bank, and recognise the achievement of many significant milestones during his tenure,” Auswide chairman Sandra Birkensleigh said.

“During Martin’s time in the role, Auswide has been granted a banking licence by APRA, and there has been a significant transformative process of the bank’s technology, risk profile and customer services. In addition, there has been incremental growth in assets and shareholders have received the benefits of increasing dividends.”

“Martin leaves the bank in excellent shape with strong growth, low arrears and ongoing investment in technology and security. We wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”

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