National Australia Bank will put more than 100 new business bankers in regional areas to initially assist with the recovery of flood-damaged areas across the east coast of the country.
The nation’s largest business bank on Friday announced it would introduce 134 new business bankers to assist with the booming economic activity being felt across regional Australia following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
NAB business bank executive Andrew Irvine revealed approximately 70,000 NAB business customers across NSW, Queensland and Victoria had been affected from the recent deluge.
“We are in the process of reaching out to them to understand how they have been impacted,” he said.
The head of NAB’s business bank praised the resilience of regional communities that have also dealt with the financial ramifications of the pandemic and bushfires 12 months ago.
NAB in the last week has set up $2000 grants for both retail and business customers to assist with emergency costs.
Specialised regional business bankers will be based in regional towns such as Warragul in Victoria, Lismore in NSW and Rockhampton in Queensland and will support more than 500,000 customers.
Additional “on the road” bankers with expertise in their region will also be available to help businesses.
Economic data shows gross domestic product (GDP) has bounced back from the COVID-19 recession, and NAB expects GDP for 2021 to grow annually by 4.6 per cent.
Mr Irvine said stronger housing markets in regional Australia and an injection of capital investment from federal and state government funding was aiding the uptick in activity.
“Business owners are more optimistic now than they have been since coming out of the global financial crisis,” he said.
“Running a small business is all-encompassing, which is why our specialised bankers are out on the road, meeting customers where best suits them, whether that’s the farm table or a local coffee shop.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic NAB has provided $2.4bn a month to small businesses in the form of loans.
Mr Irvine said there was a sense of “incredible optimism” across the country of an economic rebound but noted labour shortages remained the biggest issue facing firms.
“That is the biggest challenge we are hearing,” he said. “But, generally, on a macro level, things are incredible.”
The 134 new banking positions will add to the already 2000 bankers placed across the NAB network.