RETAIL BANKING | Tony Chua, Australia

Westpac allots $100mln to boost retail division

Move follows lender's appointment of 670 managers in an effort to increase division's competitiveness.

Westpac has set aside another $100 million in the coming financial year to help bed down its new ''back to the future'' approach to retail banking.

That will be in addition to the $120 million the group has spent in the past year on the program, which is centred on the return of the traditional branch bank manager.

The bank has so far appointed 670 managers who have been given responsibility for their own profit and loss accounts and hire-and-fire power over staff. It has also brought in 450 new business bankers.

The change was one of the first made by the Westpac chief executive, Gail Kelly, to improve the standing of the retail division, which has been lagging behind rivals such as ANZ and the Commonwealth Bank.

It was also regularly trumped in customer satisfaction surveys by Mrs Kelly's former employer St George Bank, which is now a sister division to Westpac Local after the merger of the two banks in 2008.

Analysts are scrutinising the financial impact of the overhaul, which is still less than halfway through its three- to five-year time frame.

View the full story in The Sydney Morning Herald.

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