CEO Message

Kia ora,

Our planet is facing unprecedented environmental, economic and social challenges and we recognise that as a business we must be part of the solution.

David Mc Lean Circle

Businesses exist for a purpose – to meet the needs of our customers and communities and to create value for them and the shareholders who enable us to operate.

As a bank, we help customers manage and grow their finances. We want to help empower our customers  so they are free to grow in ways that are important to them – to own their dream home, to spend more time with family, or enjoy a comfortable retirement. 

As we come to the end of our five-year sustainability strategy, there have been many highlights, but also numerous challenges. It is the latter that has helped us focus our minds on our 2020 strategy, where we have chosen three impact areas that are important to New Zealanders: 

  • Helping New Zealanders manage money
  • Tackling inequality
  • Taking action on climate change

We want to help our customers grow their money and in doing so help New Zealand grow its economy, which has the potential to benefit us all. However, one of the biggest economic and social challenges we face as a country is inequality. We want an economy and society that works for everyone. We don’t have the answers, but we are up for the challenge of working with others to reduce inequalities around wealth, gender, culture and in a range of other ways.

We recognise climate change is a major threat to our environment, economy and wellbeing. But it also presents opportunities – for new jobs, new technologies and new services. We believe the finance sector has a major role to play. We are experts in minimising financial risks and maximising opportunities and we want to help our customers manage the transition to a low carbon economy. We also want to ensure capital flows to the parts of the economy where it is needed. We need to tackle this with urgency – the longer we wait the higher the cost and disruption we could face.

We’ve made some good progress against the objectives of our 2013-2017 strategy, including meeting eight of the 10 targets we set ourselves. This year we’ve reduced our carbon emissions by 21%, increased our lending to the CleanTech sector to $1.3 billion, delivered Managing Your Money workshops to nearly 5,000 New Zealanders and helped 67,000 people keep track of their spending through our CashNav app. We also continue to become a more diverse and inclusive workplace and have increased women in leadership to 52%.

We can’t do this alone. Achieving our sustainability goals requires partnering with others. We have supported the Middlemore Foundation’s Mana-ā-Riki programme which brings together a coalition of providers to reduce inequality and improve health and educational outcomes in South Auckland. A year and a half on, it has delivered more than 1,000 Chromebooks to the six pilot schools and conducted over 5,000 throat swabs and treated 776 cases of group A streptococcus (a precursor for rheumatic fever).

Listening and responding to our stakeholders – customers, shareholders, employees and communities - is important to us. Sometimes this will create tension and debate; however, this dialogue is vital to our ongoing success and innovation. The input we’ve received this year has been invaluable. To assist us further on this journey I welcome your feedback.

Noho ora mai

David McLean

Chief Executive Officer

Westpac New Zealand

External Stakeholder Panel Chair Message

To assist us on our sustainability journey and to ensure we are sufficiently challenged by representatives of our communities we established an eight-member External Stakeholder Panel.

The panel is chaired by Nick Main and includes Sir Mason Durie, Dr Monique Faleafa, Sir Rob Fenwick, Sam Johnson, Dr Renee Liang, Anne Norman and Phil O'Reilly.

Nick Main Circle

This is my second message as Chair of the External Stakeholder panel. 

During the current year we have continued our role of stimulation, encouragement and appraisal of Westpac New Zealand’s sustainability strategy and performance:

  • Stimulation - as we help identify integrate and absorb current thinking about the role of business in society and identify best practice process and activities;
  • Encouragement - as we work with the Executive and the Board as to how these ideas can be put into practice; and
  • Appraisal - as we review current goals, objectives, measures and performance and suggest improvements.

One of our key messages this year has been about simplification of the strategy and doing a smaller number of things particularly well.  Many of the goals which might have been relevant in the past are now just business as usual; they are still important, but they are not strategic.

We have also been focusing our minds on ‘business purpose’ and a purpose-led strategy and culture for the bank.  In the era of increasing concern about poverty and disparity of wealth and environmental challenges some thinking about how the business should respond is timely.

I am pleased to say that Westpac has responded positively to our suggestions in both these areas.  You will start to see the change coming through in this annual sustainability review.

There is much to do.  The 17 Global Sustainable Development Goals, developed by the United Nations and signed up to by New Zealand, provide a good overview of the challenges that beset us.   I believe that business must be a part of the way these issues are resolved. 

Westpac, as a major financial institution, can play a significant role without impacting its ability to provide returns to shareholders.  Indeed, to be a sustainable business, one that can look forward to the next 200 years, it must.

Once again, I am grateful to the members of the Panel for their wisdom, the time they have committed to our work, and their willingness to engage and debate challenging topics.  They are an inspiring group of people.

Nick Main



​In addition to our External Stakeholder Panel our strategy is overseen by our Sustainability Steering Committee, comprised of our CEO, Executive Team and Chief Economist.

Our governance structure helps us to ensure sustainability is overseen at the highest levels of our organisation and embedded throughout our everyday operations.