Westpac has appointed its first general manager of small business.
The inaugural holder of the role, Julie Rynski, told SmartCompany this morning that while Westpac already has the nation’s largest number of small business bankers in Australia, it’s keen to play a larger role.
“The recent election saw such a mandate around small business, and we agree it’s the heartbeat of Australia,” she says.
“We’re keen to be a part of that. And as the first bank, and the largest SME bank in Australia, there’s synergy in us focusing on this.”
Westpac says 640,000 small businesses use it for their banking, an increase of 70,000 since 2008. Since August 2011, Westpac’s release added, Roy Morgan Research has given it the satisfaction levels of the big four banks among its business customers.
But the bank is looking to significantly ramp up its engagement with the sector, Rynski says.
She has most recently worked as Westpac’s general manager of regional commercial and agribusiness, where she dealt mostly with small businesses in regional Australia. She also has experience in the sector from her previous role as national manager of commercial and property.
She says small businesses need simple, flexible solutions from their bank.
“Small businesses are time poor, and they need to be able to do stuff on their terms,” she says. “We have some fabulous digital solutions, and we’ve rolled out 18 24/7 branches around the country.
“For businesses that can’t get to a branch, we’re rolling out our business hubs, which will allow SMEs to call or teleconference into a meeting with a banker.”
Rynski says her focus is on working closely with the Council of Small Business of Australia, as well as Small Business Minister Bruce Billson, in reducing red tape for SMEs.
“There’s so much red tape and bureaucracy. We will focus on making things as simple as we can,” she says.
“Westpac has a large small business banking community, and we’re looking to grow that significantly.”