SBS Bank was last night named Financial Institution of
the Year in the second annual Roy Morgan Research customer
It was the second time the Invercargill-based bank had been
named the top financial institution, something chief
executive Ross Smith put down to empathy from staff towards
The bank spent time on personal development for staff
members, and worked hard in placing the right people in the
''Hopefully, we get it right most of the time. It's the
southern way of doing things. It is getting the culture
SBS was up against some of the big names in New Zealand,
including major New Zealand banks, insurance companies and
Because SBS did not have a nationwide presence, Mr Smith said
it was important staff made the right decisions when people
''One bad remark sees us tumble down the list.''
Asked if there were still improvements to be made, Mr Smith
said there was always something that could be improved.
The finance market was competitive and SBS had to make the
most of its opportunities to ensure it performed at the
The bank continued to look for growth opportunities
throughout New Zealand but there was nothing on the books at
present, he said.
''The market is slow and everyone is scrapping over whatever
is out there. The lack of demand for mortgage business means
that when one comes up, everyone scraps for it.''
SBS monitored interest rate movements carefully and it was
always difficult to know how low to go, Mr Smith said. SBS
did not want to offer new customers better deals than those
available to existing clients. At the same time, competitors
continued to offer incentives for customers to shift across.
''It's a challenging market,'' he said.
The awards were announced in Auckland. Some businesses
returned for a second consecutive award along with SBS.
They were Kiwibank as the major bank of the year, Subway as
the quick service restaurant of the year, Kirkcaldie and
Stains as department store of the year, Suzuki as car
manufacturer of the year, 2degrees as mobile phone service
provider of the year and Paradise as the home internet
service provider of the year.
Apple's iPhone retained the top spot for mobile phone handset
customer satisfaction but was likely to be challenged this
year by Samsung.