About Westpac Bank

About Westpac Bank

Westpac Banking Corporation (Westpac) was founded in 1817 and was the first bank established in Australia.

Westpac began trading on 8 April, 1817 when it was called the Bank of New South Wales. At that time it had a single office in Macquarie Place, Sydney. In 1982, the then Bank of New South Wales merged with the Commercial Bank of Australia and changed its name to the Westpac Banking Corporation. On 23 August 2002, Westpac was registered as a public company limited by shares under the Australian Corporations Act (2001); then in December 2008, Westpac merged with St.George Bank Limited.

Westpac’s history

Westpac has a long and proud history as Australia’s first and oldest bank. It was established in 1817 as the Bank of New South Wales under a charter of incorporation provided by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. In October 1982 it changed its name to Westpac Banking Corporation following the acquisition of the Commercial Bank of Australia.

When we opened our doors for business the first employee was Joseph Hyde Potts. As a porter and servant, he received a weekly ration from the King’s stores and an annual salary of 25 pounds.

The 1800s

This was a challenging time, beginning with a serious loss in 1821 when it was discovered that the Bank of NSW’s Chief Cashier had stolen half its subscribed capital, none of which was ever recovered.

The Bank’s major expansion began in response to the gold fever in 1851 when it saw an opportunity to set up gold-buying agents in response to the needs of miners and merchants. It had grown from a single office in Sydney to a network of 37 branches by 1861.

The 1900s

The crash of the New York stock market on Black Thursday, 24 October 1929 signalled the start of the depression in the international market. The first significant sign of this in Australia came in January of that year, when Alfred Charles Davidson became general manager.

Davidson advocated a bold initiative to adjust the exchange rate on London downwards from par to £A130 = £100stg in 1931. This helped soften the impact of the depression on Australia and spark the ailing economy into recovery.

Following the acquisition of the Commercial Bank of Australia in 1982, Westpac expanded rapidly in the 1980s. However, as a result of the economic downturn at the end of the decade, Westpac declared a loss of $1.6 billion for the financial year ended 30 September 1992.

From 1993 to 1999, under the leadership of Robert (Bob) Joss, Westpac underwent a substantial rejuvenation program and then instigated a number of acquisitions in Australia and New Zealand to expand its retail footprint in markets where it was underweight, acquiring

  • Challenge Bank Limited, Western Australia in 1995
  • Trust Bank New Zealand in 1996
  • Bank of Melbourne in 1997.

The 2000s

Westpac began the new century as a principal sponsor of the very successful Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

In 2002, the bank began a strategic reshaping commencing with the sale of its longstanding iconic finance company, Australian Guarantee Corporation Limited (AGC) to GE Australia.

In the same year, we began to expand our wealth management business with the acquisition of:

  • Rothschild Australia Asset Management
  • Parts of BT Financial Group
  • 51% of Hastings Funds Management Limited, moving to 100% ownership in 2005.

In 2008 Westpac merged with St.George Bank Limited, resulting in a much larger multi-brand Group. The effective date of the merger was 1 December 2008. On 1 March 2010, The Westpac Group commenced operating as a single authorised deposit-taking institution (ADI), and the legal entity St.George Bank Limited was deregistered. From that date St.George Bank became an operating division within The Westpac Group.

On 25 July 2011, Westpac Group, through its operating division, St.George Banking Group, launched the Bank of Melbourne.


  • Westpac Group has branches and controlled entities throughout Australia, New Zealand and the near Pacific region and maintains offices in key financial centres around the world including London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore
  • Westpac is ranked in the top 5 listed companies by market capitalisation on the Australian Securities Exchange Limited (ASX). As at 30 September 2014, Westpac’s market capitalisation was A$100 billion and they employ approximately 36,000 people (considered at full time equivalent basis) in Australia, New Zealand and around the world, and had global assets of A$770.8 billion. For the 12 months to 30 September 2014, the Westpac Group’s reported net profit after income tax was A$7,561 million.
  • About 595,000 people and institutions in Australia and overseas are Westpac shareholders.

Westpac Group has 5 key customer facing divisions serving nearly 13 million customers:

  1. Westpac Retail and Business Banking;
  2. St.George Banking Group;
  3. BT Financial Group;
  4. Westpac Institutional Bank; and
  5. Westpac New Zealand.
  • The Westpac Retail & Business Banking (Westpac RBB) division is responsible for sales and customer service to small-to-medium enterprise customers, commercial and agribusiness customers in Australia under the Westpac brand;
  • St.George Banking Group is responsible for sales and service to consumer, SME and corporate customers (businesses with facilities up to $150 million) in Australia under the St.George, Bank of Melbourne, BankSA and RAMS brands;
  • BT Financial Group Australia (BTFG) is Westpac’s Australian wealth and insurance business. BTFG’s brands include Advance Asset Management, Ascalon, Asgard, BT, BT Investment management, Licensee Select, BT Select and Securitor. BTFG is also responsible for and the advice, private banking and insurance operations of Bank of Melbourne, BankSA, St.George and Westpac;
  • Westpac Institutional Bank (WIB) delivers a broad range of financial services to commercial, corporate, institutional and government customers with connections to Australia and New Zealand. Customers are supported through branches and subsidiaries located in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, United States, United Kingdom; and
  • New Zealand Banking is responsible for sales and service of banking, wealth, and insurance products for consumer, business and institutional customers in New Zealand. Banking products are provided under the Westpac and WIB brands, while insurance and wealth products are provided under Westpac Life and BT brands respectively.

Other business divisions in the Group comprise:

  • Westpac Pacific – provides banking services for retail and business customers in seven Pacific Island Nations, and reports into Westpac Institutional Bank;
  • Group Services – which encompasses technology, banking operations, compliance, legal, and property services;
  • Group Treasury – which is primarily focused on the management of the Group’s interest rate risk and funding requirements, and reports into the Chief Financial Officer; and
  • Core Support – which comprises those functions performed centrally, including finance, risk and human resources.

Westpac Retail and Business Banking

Westpac Retail & Business Banking (Westpac RBB) is responsible for sales and service of its 6.2 million consumer, small-to-medium enterprise customers and commercial customers (typically with turnover of up to $100 million) in Australia under the ‘Westpac’ brand.

Activities are conducted through Westpac RBB’s nationwide network of 840 branches and 70 business banking centres, home finance managers and specialised consumer and business relationship managers, with the support of cash flow, financial markets and wealth specialists, customer service centres, 2,029 automatic teller machines (ATMs) and internet channels.

St.George Banking Group

St.George was founded in the southern Sydney suburbs in 1937. Over the next 50 years it built a reputation as Australia’s foremost building society, before achieving full banking status in July 1992.

In December 2008, Westpac merged with St.George and the retail and business banking distribution businesses are now known as St.George Bank.

St.George Banking Group is responsible for sales and service of its 3.6 million consumer, business and corporate customers in Australia under the St.George, BankSA, Bank of Melbourne and RAMS brands. Consumer activities are conducted through a network of 452 branches, third party distributors, call centres, 1,076 ATMs, EFTPOS terminals and internet banking services.

Business and corporate customers (businesses with facilities typically up to $150 million) are provided with a wide range of banking and financial products and services, including specialist advice for cash flow finance, trade finance, automotive and equipment finance, property finance, transaction banking and treasury services. Sales and service activities for business and corporate customers are conducted by relationship managers via 74 business banking centres, internet and customer service centre channels.

RAMS has 68 franchisees operating through 76 owner-operated Home Loan Centres.

Other St.George Banking Group brands: BankSA, Bank of Melbourne and RAMS.

BT Financial Group

BT Financial Group (BTFG) is the wealth management arm of the Westpac Group, which, following the merger with St.George Bank Limited, also includes the wealth division of St.George.

BTFG designs, creates and distributes financial products that are designed to help its customers achieve their financial goals by administering, managing and protecting their assets.

Funds Management operations include:

  • The manufacture and distribution of investment, superannuation and retirement products;
  • Investment platforms, such as Wrap and master trusts; and
  • Private banking and financial planning.

Insurance solutions cover the manufacturing and distribution of life, general, lenders mortgage and deposit bonds.

BTFG includes operations under the ‘Asgard’, ‘Advance’, ‘Licensee Select’, ‘Magnitude’, ‘BankSA’ and ‘Securitor’ brands.

Other BT Financial Group brands:

  • BT Investment Management
  • Asgard
  • Westpac Private Banking
  • St.George Private Clients
  • Securitor
  • Magnitude
  • Advance
  • Ascalon

Westpac Institutional Bank

Westpac Institutional Bank (WIB), delivers a broad range of financial services to commercial, corporate, institutional and government customers with connections to Australia and New Zealand.

WIB operates through dedicated industry relationship and specialist product teams, with expert knowledge in transactional banking, financial and debt capital markets, specialised capital, margin lending, broking and alternative investment solutions.

Customers are supported through branches and subsidiaries located in Australia, New Zealand, United States, United Kingdom and key Asian centres.

Other Westpac Institutional Bank brands:

  • St.George Institutional Bank
  • Westpac Pacific
  • Westpac Asia
  • Hastings Funds Management
  • Xylo
  • Qvalent

Westpac New Zealand

Westpac New Zealand is one of New Zealand’s largest banking organisations. It has, since 1861, provided a full range of banking, wealth management and insurance products to more than 1.3 million New Zealand consumer and small to medium sized business customers. Westpac New Zealand operates via an extensive network of 193 branches (including agency sites) and 628 ATMs across both the North and South islands. It has more than 645,000 registered online banking users.

New Zealand Banking provides a full range of retail and commercial, and wealth management products and services to consumer and business customers throughout New Zealand. New Zealand Banking operates under the ‘Westpac New Zealand’, ‘Westpac Life New Zealand’ and ‘BT New Zealand’ brands. Institutional customers are supported by the New Zealand Institutional Bank, the results of which appear within Westpac Institutional Bank.