Banking on a better future for manufacturers

Matthew Kelly, head of manufacturing and wholesale for St.George’s NSW division

St.George Bank has championed its unique industry model tailored towards manufacturing growth. St.George’s head of manufacturing Matthew Kelly explains.


As the industry adapts to new technologies and a greatly diversified supply chain, the manufacturer is urged to embrace change early.

Whether it is around robotics, 3D printing or data tracking, advanced manufacturing is playing a big part in the future of Australia’s industries and is aided by better aligned government policy and academic curriculum.

With new ideas and opportunities for innovation, expansion is becoming a reality for ambitious businesses; enabling manufacturers to make an impression on the international market.

To commercialise a good idea and to enter the global supply chain, financial backing is essential and, ideally, comes in the form of a partner that has their interests at heart.

St.George Bank is doing just that, having adopted a unique industry model that leads with banking specialists who know the industries they serve inside and out.

“What makes it unique, for us, is to tailor not only product but also value-added solutions for the industry,” said Matthew Kelly, head of manufacturing and wholesale for St.George’s NSW division.

“For me, the exciting thing about that is that there is no other bank in New South Wales, or Australia, that focuses specifically on the growth of manufacturers.”

The bank has partnered with a number of groups, offering complimentary R&D reviews, eligibility for government grants, and provides complimentary business reviews as part of its business model.

It is also benefitting industry efficiency by working with customers to strip back operational costs and to consider smarter energy solutions.

Toward the end of 2017, St.George was also in talks with TAFE to build an industry-wide training solution following discussions with the industry around the need for upskilling and workforce transformation.

“This is our way of giving back to the industry,” Kelly continued. “Connecting with universities around innovation – and especially robotics and 3D printing – innovation in the manufacturing sector is critical and it is those companies in the advanced manufacturing space in particular which will succeed, grow and thrive.”

The strategy, Kelly explains, is to revise the role of the banking professional within the industry.

The model has been up and running for two years and has already seen St.George build a manufacturing-specific business chain and knowledge base unrivalled by other Australian banks. In that time, the bank was a finalist in the Business and Banking Awards for industry specialisation.

“When I was asked what sector I wanted to work in, I jumped at the chance of working in the manufacturing and wholesale, space,” Kelly said. “Partly because I think they are core businesses – but also because I think there is an opportunity to help manufacturers prosper & grow.

“We are trying to help connect them globally, so going about that as a bank and a business is the next step on our journey.

“We are talking to our colleagues in Asia around this global connectivity piece, which manufacturers arewanting to embrace to grow their businesses.”

Connecting its customer base home and abroad, Kelly says St.George is informing the industry of the opportunities and pitfalls when it comes to expansion, with Asia – and more specifically China – dominating the manufacturing space.

As part of St.George’s personal growth, it is constantly asking questions of the manufacturer here in Australia.

Heading the bank’s Industry Innovation division, Michelle Wilson’s team of specialists is laying the foundations for the St.George philosophy.

“In manufacturing, we have specialisation in food, pharmaceuticals, materials and equipment, and also consumer goods,” Wilson said.

“We have bespoke portfolios, which mean that our bankers really talk the language of the industry, which is the foundation pillar of industry specialisation.”

The team sits across 23 industry sectors to work out the best way to align St.George’s offerings to the industry. As a professional services business, its purposes include:

  1. Talking the language of the industry and knowing the trends of the manufacturing market;
  2. Connecting with customers and the industry in relevant ways;
  3. Owning a deep knowledge of working capital, supply chain management and the impact it has on a manufacturing operation;
  4. Driving value through industry connections, including educational and government bodies.

“Instead of having banking discussions, we are actually having industry conversations with the customer and are able to add value through the different programs we have in place,” Kelly continued.

“In response, by collecting all that industry data and owning an enormous business chain ourselves, we are able to grow connectivity for the customer too, creating business opportunities for them.

“Our philosophy really is through this model to help industry prosper and grow by helping the individual manufacturer grow.

“We are a bank that is committed to manufacturers in Australia and, if it continues to help the industry grow, people are going to want to be a part of that.”