Longest bank leadership over

Ross Smith.
Ross Smith.
SBS Bank chief executive Ross Smith started in his role in 1992, telling his wife the position would be for three to five years.

He will retire as chief executive at the end of July after 22 years at the helm of the bank he helped expand from the Southland Building Society into a registered bank with nearly 20 branches throughout the country.

Mr Smith had spent three years with the United Building Society, in Christchurch, which became the United Bank. SBS recruited him after the failed sale of the society to Westpac.

Mr Smith, the Otago Daily Times Southern Business Leader in 2011, has been the longest-serving chief executive of any New Zealand bank, SBS chairman John Ward said.

''Mr Smith's decision to retire will bring to a close a remarkable career of 22 years of continous service to the business and its customers. Ross has been an invaluable member of the SBS team. He has successfully managed the entity through challenging times and market transitions.''

Mr Smith said it would be difficult to leave but he was confident the timing was right to retire.

''I've been privileged to lead the first building society in the world to become a registered bank and after 20-something years, it's time to move on and transfer SBS Bank's helm to a new generation of leadership.''

Included in his proudest achievements were: the launch of subsidiary companies Finance Now, Southsure Assurance and Funds Administration; gaining bank registration; and the successful merger with the Hastings Building Society, now HBS Bank.

The board was currently in the process of recruiting his replacement, Mr Ward said.

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