Lessons for Hunter business facing change and disruption

Lessons for Hunter business facing change and disruption

At the June Newcastle Business Club luncheon a full house of guests were treated to an interesting and relevant panel discussion with one of the region’s leading businesses.

Greater Bank Chairman and partner at business advisory firm Pitcher Partners, Wayne Russell, Greater Bank CEO, Scott Morgan, and its Head Of People And Process Transformation, Marie Hanson-Kentwell, spoke openly and frankly about why Greater Building Society had changed its name to Greater Bank as one small part of its strategy to position itself to remain relevant to customers and to take on current and future competition and disruption.

The panel discussed that the Greater Building Society was a well-managed, profitable business and was enjoying high customer satisfaction ratings. The Board and management could have continued business as usual. A deeper dive into its financial and customer data, and an eye on the dominant big banks and emerging Fintech disruptors, showed it needed to change for long term viability.

Newcastle Business Club President, Jo Bright, said there were lessons for all Hunter businesses from a management and Board perspective on the issues of business strategy, culture and investment.

“It’s clear that set and forget strategy is a thing of the past. The Greater Bank panel shared with us that they have moved from three yearly strategy reviews to essentially reviewing strategy every quarter. Their strategy was based on extensive research of customer needs not what the business thinks its customers want,” Jo said.

Scott said that any strategy will not be worth the paper it is written on if you don‘t have the right business culture.

“The wrong culture will eat your strategic intent for breakfast,” he said. “Greater Bank is changing its culture by engaging with and involving its staff in the process. Openly and honestly articulating the burning platform for change, staff and management have implemented new values, are changing position descriptions and business systems to better support customers’ changing needs.”

Below are short videos on three of the questions asked of Scott Morgan. Click on the links to watch.

Why did you decide to change your name?

Scott says the name change is only a small part of the Greater Bank strategy and culture change. It has been done to stay relevant. Research showed an increasing number of people, particularly its younger, future customer base didn’t understand what a building society did. The word ‘bank’ reflects what the organisation has been operating as and regulated as for years.  He stressed Greater Bank remained a customer owned mutual.

What do you hope your customers are noticing?

Scott says the purpose of the change is to better meet customer needs now and into the future. He hopes customers will notice greater flexibility in the way the bank responds to their needs with more tailored products and distribution channels.

What role does technology play in managing change and disruption?

Scott cautions not to jump on the technology bandwagon for the sake of it or because others are doing so. This is very important for regional businesses competing with limited budgets. Disruption often occurs when challengers understand your customer’s needs better than you do. Often they use technology to do this.  If you truly know your customers and their needs then the need to chase technology becomes less relevant. Greater Bank uses a business incubator to test some of its system, product and other changes early.

Concepts either quickly fail or show success to warrant further investment.

The panel gave these final tips.

  • Wayne: For Board members. Engage with your executive team often. Have a nimble strategy that you review regularly. Rely on data but don’t be afraid to fail.
  • Marie: Get the data from the customer.
  • Scott: If you don‘t have the people culture and people capability right the strategic intent is nothing.

The panel was expertly facilitated by media personality and business story teller Garth Russell.

The next Newcastle Business Club lunch is on Tuesday, 12 July 2016. Click here for more details.

Image | Wayne Russell, Marie Hanson-Kentwell, Scott Morgan, Jo Bright

Newcastle Business Club

Since 1933 people from the Newcastle and Hunter business community have met for a luncheon to hear from speakers who present their views, opinions and directions in business and the wider community.

Newcastle Business Club guest speakers have included high profile community members, management experts, business people, politicians and people from the areas of sport, arts and entertainment.

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