Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) recently made a significant stride in its commitment to New Zealand’s diverse communities. This year, the bank secured naming rights for the iconic Auckland Diwali Festival. A much-awaited event in Auckland’s social calendar, the festival drew 100,000attendees over two days, showcasing a mela of culture, food, celebration, and festivities.
INZBC’s content editor, Priti Garude- Kasture, sat down with Harshad Tendulkar, Business Partner – Newmarket, and Sumant Khedkar, Senior Partner Personal Banking, to discuss the bank’s approach towards embracing the diverse needs of the Indian community in New Zealand.
Navigating Cultural Nuances in Business and Personal Banking
Khedkar, who looks after the retail side of the business, has worked with the bank for over eight years. He explained that BNZ’s increased engagement with the Indian community was not an isolated strategy but part of a broader outlook. He said it was a step further in their continued commitment to providing for the diversified needs of the Asian and immigrant communities in New Zealand.
Tendulkar, who manages high-value clients and relationships within BNZ, reflected on the significant changes in Indian businesses in New Zealand over the last two decades.“ In 2001 or 2002, most Indian or migrant businesses were dairy shops or coffee outlets. They were very small, so their needs were very simple. Today, Indians or people from the Asian subcontinent and China, for instance, own some of the big businesses in New Zealand, in sectors like education and large retail franchises,” he said.
He noted that with bigger businesses comes more complex banking needs and the importance of ensuring nothing gets lost in translation. “Managing the relationship, helping customers grow is what I do in my role,” he added.
Empowering Immigrant Entrepreneurs: The BNZ Approach
Tendulkar mentioned that nearly 40 percent of new businesses in the country are now owned by migrants. “Some of our customers from India still have an Indian mentality and ways of doing business, which needs to be a little different in New Zealand.
A large part of my role involves educating customers and their accountants on how to become bankable,” he said. He emphasised the importance of making customers understand their obligations and reporting requirements in a way that is easy, compliant, and non-offensive. Education is a big part of Khedkar’s role as well. He said his team of 16 works with new customers from the moment they arrive in New Zealand.
With the tech industry booming, Khedkar noted that New Zealand sees 10 to 15 new immigrants per week, who have traditionally only banked in India. “We sit with them and explain how we can make their life easy in terms of banking,” he said. For those deciding to settle in New Zealand, he focuses on creating a pathway to homeownership.
“ We give them a stepwise plan - what they need to do, how do they need to get into their first dream home. We guide them from day one, ensuring that it’ll become a reality, not now, but a year and a half, two years down the line,” he said.
Advocating for Holistic Banking: Personalised Solutions by BNZ
Both Tendulkar and Khedkar stressed the importance of BNZ’s holistic banking approach. This approach integrated both personal and business banking services, offering tailored support whether through a dedicated retail banker for individual clients or a business banker for commercial needs.
With 15 years of experience in both business and personal banking, Tendulkar underscored the importance of assembling a strong support team for successful entrepreneurship. “Having that team is very important - it should include a good accountant, a good lawyer, and a good banker,”he advised. Khedkar, passionate about his people and customers ,highlighted the long-term benefits of maintaining a consistent relationship with a personal banker.
He added that such a relationship is key to successfully navigating the financial journey, whether for purchasing a home or investing in a business.
Growing Together: BNZ’s Vision for Community and Customer Prosperity
Khedkar explained that for BNZ, the goal is aligned with that of the customer – to help them grow. “Our motto at BNZ is ‘grow together’,” he said. “We have been in the community for the last 7 to 10 years. With over 20 years in banking, the depth of conversation and in-depth knowledge about banking and the needs of Indian customers is where our expertise lies.
“We don’t just grow ourselves; we ensure that our customers grow because only if our customers grow, will our communities grow, and we as a country will grow." he concluded.