Bankwest is sharpening its focus on Western Australia’s Asian migrant community, launching an initiative to provide a full suite of banking services to high-net-worth individuals, small businesses and large corporates with an Asian background.
The strategy was launched last month, led by Bankwest’s regional sales manager, Andrew Stephenson.
Mr Stephenson, who came to Bankwest from its parent, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said the strategy would bring the bank in line with other major banks, which have also been tailoring products for the migrant community.
Bankwest has assembled a team of experts on Asian culture, languages and communities to create an Asian banking network, he said.
“One of the key aspects of having a successful focus in the market is having very good colleagues who understand the culture, understand the language, and are actually involved in the community themselves,” Mr Stephenson said.
“And in Bankwest, I found we were quite fortunate to have a large number of colleagues who are from an Asian migrant background and would love to get involved in serving their community.
“From there it was really a simple matter of putting the strategy together and engage our staff members initially with each other, and now with the wider community.”
Mr Stephenson said the strategy would be designed to service a wide range of Asian communities, focusing initially on China, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.
“We are focusing on Australian migrants, Australian permanent residents and Australian citizens with an Asian migrant background,” he said.
“We do feel that they do have a preference to deal with people they trust, and you can quickly gain that trust by having a cultural understanding and in some cases, bilingual skills as well.
“I’m from a commercial banking background, and I saw a particular need for business banking, however, when you look at a migrant community, they don’t just have needs for business.
“You need general transactional services, home loans, private banking for professionals and business banking for enterprise.
“We really are looking to do a whole range of offerings, whether it’s from a school student that wants to open their first account, right through to a large property developer who wants to do a very large development – we’ll have somebody who can actually meet all of those needs.”
Mr Stephenson said Bankwest was examining how it could establish a presence on WeChat, the social media, news and entertainment app of choice for Chinese people, as well as many other Asian migrant communities.
He said the strategy would also have a role to play in celebrating the contribution Asian migrant communities had made to WA, particularly the Chinese.
“In business, a lot of Chinese migrants have access to capital, which is very important when you’re trying to grow,” Mr Stephenson said.
“That’s what attracted me to the community, because they are very entrepreneurial, and wanting to invest, and that’s actually good for Western Australia.
“I believe there is a big enough market right now in WA for us to do very well out of, plus it’s an important part of our community.”