By Bernard Hickey
Earlier this month I spoke with Kiwibank's Group Manager Business Markets, Mark Stephen, at his offices in Wellington to find out what Kiwibank is doing to help its small to medium business customers grow.
Kiwibank is now 10 years old and has been growing its business banking services for the last 5 to 6 years. It started off with 44 business customers who volunteered to help build up those services. It now has business banking specialists in 20 locations from Whangarei to Invercargill. See the full list here.
Stephen told me Kiwibank was focused on helping its customers spend less time doing their banking and more time doing business. That meant reducing the 'pain points' for growing businesses around making payments and receiving payments.
"Often it's about how do I get paid and how do I make my payments for payroll and suppliers. Those day-to-day interactions for a business customer are the key pain points. We have a lot of innovation in the pipeline from that point of view," Stephen said.
"Outside of that, it's our local team of business bankers dotted around New Zealand. They're local passionate people involved in the local business community. They're there because they want to build a successful franchise and successful bank. Our customers are our strongest advocates of our people," he said.
Stephen said funding was not necessarily the main constraint for growing businesses.
"Capital tends not to be a limiting factor for growing businesses in New Zealand. It's available in one form or another," he said.
Small businesses wanting to grow from a local market into another demographic, or nationally, or internationally, often needed ideas, advice and information to help them expand, Stephen said.
"The constraint becomes: how do I understand a wider customer demographic or a different region? How do I access information and insight that enables me to do that?" he said.
Growing businesses often needed other forms of support, be that professional expert or technical advice in banking, accounting and taxation. Or it could be informal advice from successful business people in Kiwibank's network.
"One of the things that our local business managers do is link our customers with our own network, whether that's other customers or other people we know who have a successful background and a passion for helping New Zealand businesses be successful. If we can link those things together, we can enable small businesses to become medium businesses."
Find out more about Kiwibank's business banking here.
Also see more here from Kiwibank business banking customers about their growth stories.
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