Bernie Poort new Bankers' Association Chair
The Samoa Bankers’ Association has a new Chairman: Mr. Bernie Poort, the regional Country Head of A.N.Z. Samoa.
The Central Bank Governor, Maiava Atalina Ainu’u-Enari, confirmed Mr. Poort’s appointment on Friday.
Maiava said reviving the Bankers Association would be to the benefit of commercial banks.
“The Bankers Association works with the Government and the Regulator to ensure [that] consumers continue to benefit from a steady, economical and accessible banking industry,” Maiava said.
“Their role is to ensure the banking industry’s views are put forward when Governments determine policy or legislation.”
She congratulated Mr. Poort on his appointment.
Mr. Poort is the A.N.Z. bank’s regional Country Manager for Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands.
He said he was excited to Chair the Association.
“I believe that our industry and Samoa face some very unique challenges in 2020,” he said.
Mr Poort said the coronavirus and recent measles epidemic had Samoa facing significant economic challenges.
“That said we also know the Samoan economy to be incredibly resilient and [it] has survived many natural disasters and disease threats previously,” he said.
“Covid-19 is slow moving (unlike the measles [epidemic]) and we will have a number of industries that find it [a] very difficult environment in coming months.
“It’s really important that all banks work with their customers to help pull Samoa through this latest challenge. I should add the private sector cannot do it alone, and having the association working with the Chamber of Commerce, other industry bodies and Government will be imperative”.
The newly appointed Chairman also announced an Association project with the Central Bank.
“We are working with the Central Bank on an Automated Transfer Switch which will not only strengthen the security of our payments system within the Samoa economy; it will also deliver faster payments and ultimately greater convenience for all customers.
“There will be a day in the not so distant future where payments will be instant in Samoa, and customers will be able to access funds through any bank’s A.T.M.s.,” said Mr. Poort.
“Today only A.N.Z. and B.S.P. A.T.M.s are linked through local Visa Debit Cards.”
Mr. Poort was appointed as A.N.Z.’s Country Manager for Samoa with strategic oversight of the bank’s Tonga and Cook Islands operations in January 2017.
He has held previous business roles across the Pacific including as C.E.O. of A.N.Z. Tonga, and a banking career spanning 30 years.
In 2017 he was awarded an A.N.Z. S.T.A.R. award in recognition of his efforts to improve the lives of people with disabilities in Samoa.
He and his wife Susie were also recently granted Permanent Residency in Samoa.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Monash University in Banking and Finance and postgraduate qualifications from the Australia Graduate School of Leadership.