February 26, 2013
Regional-based Bendigo Bank and specialist global agricultural lender Rabobank are running well ahead of Australia’s big four banks when it comes to satisfaction levels among farmer clients. Latest findings from the Roy Morgan Research company show Bendigo Bank achieved an 88.8 per cent customer satisfaction rate in the agriculture sector. Rabobank was marginally behind at 88.3pc in the survey of agricultural business customers in the 12 months to December. It’s been a good week for Bendigo with its parent company Bendigo and Adelaide Bank more than tripling its first half profit on the strength of gradual improvements in business confidence in recent months. Bendigo announced a net profit of $189.4 million for the six months to December 31 – up from $57.9m in the previous corresponding period. The survey found Bendigo and Rabo’s customer satisfaction levels were well above their nearest big rival Westpac on 74pc. Another 9pc further behind was National Australia Bank (NAB) at 65.7pc, ANZ was at 63pc and Commonwealth Bank 60.7pc. The findings came from Roy Morgan’s annual single source survey of more than 13,000 businesses of whom 880 are finance decision makers in agricultural businesses. In the past two years Rabobank has generally maintained a narrow lead in customer satisfaction among agricultural business customers, ahead of Bendigo, but the positions were reversed in the latest results. Although Bendigo is a second tier player in the banking sector, dealing with potentially higher financing costs than the bigger institutions, it has strong agency ties to the Elders farm services an merchandise network and elsewhere in the rural sector via its subsidiary Rural Bank. Roy Morgan Research’s director of business research Nigel Smith said the outstanding levels of business customer satisfaction achieved by Bendigo Bank and Rabobank in the agricultural industry suggested they had “very effective strategies targeted to the specialised needs of this industry”. Survey participants were asked to give a score out of five on how satisfied or dissatisfied were they overall, with their business’s relationship with each institution. “Rabobank clearly rated above all its major competitors on having a good understanding of the agricultural industry and ‘maintaining an interest in the business through regular contact’,” Mr Smith said. “Bendigo Bank and Rabobank are both well ahead of the four majors on their customers’ perception of competitive pricing and being more honest and fair to deal with.” Bendigo and Adelaide Bank managing director Mike Hirst said business conditions started improving in the second quarter of last year, but demand for loans remained weak and competition among banks for deposits was tough. The bank’s cash earnings in the six months to December were up 4.4pc to $169.7m.