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NAB CEO wants to evaluate impact of physical branches

NAB's online banking business is thriving, and soon it will have to reassess the impact of its physical branches in order to continue innovating, according to the bank's managing director and group chief executive, Andrew Thorburn.

During an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce event in Sydney yesterday, Mr Thorburn spoke about innovation and outlined several moves by NAB that are in an effort to meet customers' changing needs.

While physical branches are still an important part of those needs, Mr Thorburn said NAB needs to re-evaluate the reasons why.

"We have 800 branches through the country and people are using them in different ways for different things. That needs to be something we review on an ongoing basis," Mr Thorburn said.

"We believe the physical outlets are important for advice, for larger ticket items, home loans and our business-making centres are also an important part of that."

He added: "Over time, we have to think about the location of those branches, the size of those branches and, increasingly, the technology that's offered in those branches to be able to ensure that our cost base is competitive and so we can continue to invest in digital channels."

Mr Thorburn said his busiest branch is the mobile one. That's because more than 60 per cent of NAB customers are using mobile devices to access their bank accounts.


In addition, about 45 million digital transactions are taking place every month at the bank alone. He added that on any given day at 3am, more than 1,000 people can be found using NAB's website.

These figures demonstrate how more customers are changing the way they handle their finances, and are what drives NAB to invest in and produce more digital products, according to Mr Thorburn.

Recently, the bank announced it will launch a computer-generated financial advice service to 40,000 of its customers. The free service – NAB Prosper – will be accessible through customers' online banking accounts and provide "personalised" advice on super and insurance.

Mr Thorburn expects to roll out more creations from NAB Labs – an in-house initiative to bring innovative ideas to life – over the next few months. He said 18 prototypes have been created so far, with only five of them already implemented.

"We at NAB are putting our clients more and more at the centre of what we do," he said.

"We are going to be focused and relentless about our drive to create a stronger, better bank in Australia and New Zealand, and be a better competitor than ever before."