In Episode 25, “The Long Game”, Blenheim Partners‘ Gregory Robinson is delighted to speak to Robert Johanson, Chairman of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. In a discussion not lacking in detail, Robert shares with us his story and explains to us his deep connection with the city of Bendigo and how this personal relationship with the once building society led to him becoming Chairman of his childhood local bank.

Robert has had a distinguished career with over thirty years’ experience in corporate finance and investment banking, and has been involved in a wide array of capital markets transactions for several leading corporations.

Robert delves deep into a discussion on the history of Australian banks and the transformation of banks into what they are today, pillars of our society. He discusses the relatively low importance the Australian bank had on the majority of the populace, instead an institution used by the rich and powerful. The changes made by the Hawke and Keating Governments allowed for the opening up of the financial system and as Robert claims was “one of the big revolutions” which allowed finance and credit to be available to almost all and hence forth, has been the lifeblood and a fundamental building block to our economic and social life.

Robert also shares with us his concerns on the implications that the general availability of credit to all can have, citing the “great collapse” of 2007 and that this tragedy was “the roosters coming home to roost” which has given rise to increased regulatory intrusion that we wouldn’t of have imaged possible before. Robert also discusses the importance of utilising technology stating, “technology is the most important factor in banking for the next generation” and taking advantage of these new emerging technologies will help streamline the process for the customer and is key to future success.

Lastly, Robert tells us that he feels it is the responsibility of his bank to give back to the local community and shares with us the belief that “banks don’t prosper when the communities in which they operate become impoverished. It’s only when they’re prosperous that banks prosper too”.

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