10 questions asked at 2022 Auswide Bank AGM

January 16, 2023

Here is the text of the questions lodged at the 2022 Auswide Bank hybrid AGM held on November 23, along with a summary of some of the answers. Watch video archive of 66 minute meeting.

1. Do any of the 5 main proxy advisers - ACSI, Ownership Matters, Glass Lewis, ISS and ASA - cover us and did any of them recommend a vote against any of today's resolutions? Have there been any material protest votes will you disclose the proxy votes before the debate on each resolution. Also, why not disclose the proxies to the ASX with the formal addresses like many other companies now do to improve the timeliness of this disclosure?

Answer: Yes, we do pay for one service.

2. Given the interesting discussions across a range of topics today, including on the remuneration report, could the chair undertake to make an archived copy of the webcast plus a full transcript of proceedings available on the company's website? The likes of Nine, AGL, ASX, ANZ, Domino's and Lend Lease all produced their 1st AGM transcripts in 2021. Will you follow suit today? This is something IAG has been doing since 2003.

Answer: maybe.

3. We have around 7,500 shareholders but less than 500 will have voted by the time the poll is concluded. Do you know how many shareholders voted by proxy before the meeting? When disclosing the outcome of voting on all resolutions today, could you please advise the ASX how many shareholders voted for and against each item, similar to what happens with a scheme of arrangement? This will provide a better gauge of retail shareholder sentiment on all resolutions and was a disclosure initiative recently adopted by the likes of Metcash, Dexus, Webjet, Myer and Tabcorp.

Answer: no commitment.

4. Thank you for offering shareholders a hybrid AGM this year and will you commit to keep doing this in future years to maximise shareholder participation? Big companies like Argo, Bank of Queensland, BHP, CBA, Brickworks, Harvey Norman, Premier Investment and Seven West Media all banned online questions and voting at their recent AGMs, so well done for showing them up. What was the experience like from your end?

Answer: fine

5. The RBA has printed more than $300 billion since COVID hit and lent $188 billion to Australian banks as virtually interest free loans which are not payable until mid 2024. The more the RBA puts up interest rates, the more valuable this bank bailout gets as recipients are only being charged 0.1% in interest. How much of this largesse did we get and were we comfortable with all this seemingly reckless central bank money printing?

Answer: we got around $150 million which is pretty small in the scheme of things.

6. Thank you to Barry for his 11 years of service. It is always helpful for investors to have access to some exit perspectives from retiring independent directors. In his final public contribution as an Auswide director, could Barry please comment on what he regards as the best decisions Auswide made during his time on the board and does he have any regrets? Could Greg Kenny comment on whether we'll have enough corporate memory on the board after Barry retires.

7. Australian Ethical is our biggest shareholder with 6.9%. Are there any constraints on who we can lend to in order to avoid being negatively screened by Australian Ethical, which has a very rigorous approach to ESG. For instance, are we allowed to make home loans to Queensland coal miners? What aspect of our approach to ESG has attracted Australian Ethical onto our register. Do we refuse to lend to mining companies and gambling entities?

Answer: We're a pretty simple business that just focuses on funding people into their homes, plus we support some farmers.

8. What proportion of our new loans come through mortgage brokers and has REA's takeover of Mortgage Choice changed the dynamics of the broker market? REA is controlled by the Murdoch family who are the biggest media distributors of climate denialism globally through the two public companies they control, News Corp and Fox Corp. In light of this, and the Murdoch family's current big push into gambling, have we thought about taking an ethical perspective and terminating dealings with Mortgage Choice brokers and REA?

Answer: That's not really relevant and we only get a little bit of business through Mortgage Choice.

9. I'm a City of Manningham councillor in Melbourne's eastern suburbs and we currently have a cash balance of $94 million with the largest deposits being $26 million with CBA, $13 million with Suncorp and $10m with each of AMP Bank and Macquarie Bank. Our average interest rate received in the September quarter was 2.32%. It would be good if we could diversify our funds with more smaller banks. What is Auswide Bank's best current offer for term deposits and do you have many Queensland councils as customers?

Answer: made a joke about giving us a call and confirmed some Queensland councils are customers.

10. Our founder Ron Hancock retired as managing director in 2013 and remains our second biggest shareholder with a 5% stake worth about $13 million. How do we manage our relationship with Ron Hancock and his family? Is Ron still active in providing advice or feedback on how we should run the business and has he sold any shares over the past decade?

Answer: We don't hear from Ron much these days but his son works in our treasury division.