SBS bank CEO leaves bank in good shape

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 24/07/2014
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ROBYN EDIE/Fairfax NZ
ROSS SMITH

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As SBS Bank's financial books closed for the year, Ross Smith's chapter at the bank did too.

The outgoing chief executive leaves SBS in good health, after a near-record profit of $22 million for the 2014 financial year.

At the annual meeting in Invercargill yesterday, Smith, the longest-serving chief executive of any New Zealand bank, said there had been several changes at the bank in the past 22 years. It had grown from $382 million of assets in 1992 when he started to $2.8 billion this year. The company had also grown from employing just 79 staff to about 450 today.

Smith was emotional during his farewell speech but said it was a new era for himself as well as the bank.

The future was now up to other people, he said.

The bank had faced challenges throughout the years but survived by implementing change. That had included better planning, improved reporting, better communications, training and performance monitoring. The bank had also increased its product range and widened its branch network. The company had survived the global financial crisis without making a trading loss, he said.

Smith, who officially finishes on July 31, ended his speech with: "It's my time to say good bye and good luck."

SBS chairman John Ward thanked Smith for his service and spoke about the financial statements. The key figure was the net surplus for the year which was $15.6m, up by $1.3m from the year before, he said. It was a "worthy result" in what had been a difficult and competitive market.

SBS Bank increased its equity by almost $3m in the financial year. Its closing cash and cash equivalents decreased from $164,986,000 to $109,759,000.

But among the serious figures were some light-hearted statistics showing SBS Bank's contribution to the community. There were 520 cups of tea and coffee given to thirsty SBS members at the Southland and Wanaka A&P Shows and Southern Field Days.

The bank handed out $1.3m to deserving community groups throughout the country and seven tubs of ice cream and two jars of hundreds and thousands were devoured by hungry children and their families as part of SBS Bank's dinner event at Ronald McDonald House.

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- The Southland Times

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