If the National Bank is bought by an Australian bank, the new owner won’t want one IT system in Australia and one in New Zealand, says Massey University banking studies director David Tripe.
“One system will be discarded,” says Tripe.
The National Bank’s parent, UK-based Lloyds Bank, confirmed last week that it is considering selling the National Bank. If the sale goes ahead, many believe the buyer will be an Australian bank.
Tripe says if the scenario of a buyer shutting down IT operations in Wellington and aligning them with Australia pans out, Wellington will lose a lot of banking-specific IT talent. “Wellington is where the expertise in systems banks use resides.”
Skills such as Cobol, in which many legacy bank systems are written, are an example and Tripe says it’s significant banks that have moved some operations northwards, such as the BNZ, have kept their IT in Wellington.
In 1998 the BNZ shifted the office of the managing director and several retail and corporate functions to Auckland, while Westpac and ANZ have moved their head offices to Auckland in the past two years.
The National Bank employs about 300 IT staff. Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast has spoken out against the possibility of capital-based staff losing their jobs in the event of a takeover by an Australian bank.
National Bank technology head Peter Lockery says its “business as usual” regarding IT. Projects begun last year, such as implementing Oracle financials and HR and inhouse-developed straight-through processing improvement, will be completed, he says.