CEDA member profile: Westpac Institutional Bank



Lyn Cobley, Chief Executive, Westpac Institutional Bank

Can you tell us a little about Westpac Institutional Bank? Where does it fit in the Westpac family and what are its main products and services?

Westpac Institutional Bank (WIB) is one of the five customer-facing divisions of the Westpac Group alongside the Business Bank, Consumer Bank, BT Financial Group (Australia) and Westpac New Zealand. We work with all the Group’s divisions to provide financial services to the bank’s commercial, corporate, institutional and government customers.

Our team has expert knowledge in transactional banking, financial and debt capital markets, corporate and structured finance and trade and supply chain finance. We have a banking relationship with 94 per cent of the ASX100. We also have a core capability in public sector banking and are the bankers to the NSW, Victorian, ACT, Tasmanian and New Zealand governments. Our customers are supported through operations in Australia, New Zealand, the US, the UK, Asia and the Pacific.

What is your current role and responsibilities with Westpac Institutional Bank? 

I’m the Chief Executive and was appointed to the role in 2015. I have responsibility for a great team doing important work to support our customers that is critical to the functioning of the Australian economy, including being a lead funder of infrastructure projects across the country. We’re a global franchise and partner with our customers to seamlessly connect them to the increasing trade, capital and people flows in Asia. We recently launched our first Australia-China Business Sentiment survey with AustCham Shanghai which reported on the opportunities, challenges and risks facing Australian businesses operating in or with China. 

What are some of your current priorities?

My key priorities are our customers and our people. For our people that means creating an environment where they can be the best they can be. For our customers it’s delivering the services they need to grow and adapt to change. This means doing the institutional banking fundamentals exceptionally well, providing strategy and market insights and service, delivered by experienced bankers who have the best capabilities and experience in the market.

Increasingly we spend a lot of time investing in new ideas, systems or processes that make it easier and more efficient for our customers to do business with us. For example, we’ve developed a corporate lending portal make it easier to drawdown loans and request guarantees. We’ve also worked with customers and peers on Blockchain proofs of concept. We partner with fintechs in our Reinventure portfolio to ensure our customers have access to new capabilities such as data analytics. Given Westpac is the world’s most sustainable bank, having led the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for our sector for the past decade, WIB plays a key role in delivering on our lending targets in our Climate Change Action Plan which was updated last year.

Can you take us through some of the highlights of your career? Have you had a favourite project or something you’ve initiated that you are particularly proud of?

Joining Westpac as the leader of the Institutional Bank almost three years ago was a really proud moment for me as WIB has a long history and reputation for supporting some of the nation’s largest organisations. Marking our 200-year anniversary as Australia’s oldest company and bank in 2017 was a real highlight for me; it was wonderful to share so many stories with our customers and people and experience their reaction to our ‘200 years’ book and historical exhibition that we toured around the country. It was not just the history of Westpac but the history of Australia.

I’m also a board director of the Westpac Foundation and am incredibly proud of the work we do to support employment opportunities through investment in social enterprises. We also have a longstanding community partnership relationship with Mission Australia which is really important to our people. I’ve worked in banking and financial services my entire career and prior to joining Westpac in 2015, I held a variety of senior positions at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, including serving as Group Treasurer from 2007 to 2013 (during the GFC), and prior to that, I worked in senior roles for Barclays, Trading Room and Citi.

Why is Westpac a member of CEDA? 

Knowing our business means not just knowing our customers and stakeholders, but also being broadly engaged with the world in which we operate. CEDA is an influential forum in which to come together and talk about what’s important now in our economy and what’s important for the future. 

You have been a speaker at CEDA events in the past. Why did you choose to take up a CEDA speaking opportunity ?

CEDA consistently stays in front of the public policy issues and discussions that are top of mind for industry and decision makers. I appreciate the effort CEDA makes to ensure the events bring together the key influencers across the most relevant topics.

Do you have a favourite CEDA event or speaker that you have found particularly interesting or helpful?

I really enjoyed the recent New Directions in Energy Policy event. It was a pleasure to sit alongside Dr Kerry Schott AO, who is Chair of the Energy Security Board, and AGL CEO Andy Vesey, along with Paul Italiano, the Chief Executive Officer of Transgrid - who are both Westpac customers. Some of the issues discussed during that forum were summarised in an article on Westpac Wire which I would encourage CEDA members to read.