Our Story

Helping Kiwis gain financial independence since 1869

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SBS Wealth is part of the SBS Bank group. In one form or another, SBS has been helping New Zealanders gain financial independence since 1869. It all started in 1869 when one of SBS’s founders, James Walker Bain, battled his way across the 204km of wilderness between Dunedin and Invercargill. James was determined to give the people of the south a way to keep their shillings, florins and pounds safe as well as an opportunity to get a mortgage and own a home. His passion was to build a financial institution owned by the people (members) who used its services – a mutual. And that’s exactly what we still are today – with branches, people and 24/7 banking right across New Zealand, we’re a mutual bank owned by our Members (customers just like you) and here for New Zealanders. 

We’ve stuck it out and stuck to our belief that banking is all about putting people first. And we’ve got 150 years under our belts to prove it. 

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23 March. Southland Building, Land and Investment society formed.

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Southland Building, Land and Investment society changes its name to Southland Building and Investment Society and Bank of Deposit after the passing of the Building Societies Act 1876.

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The first premises specifically built for SBS is opened.

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SBS celebrates 50 years. It had lent and re-lent nearly £1.2million.


SBS announced at its AGM that the society could claim “to have emerged from the economic blizzard of difficulties and uncertainties not only unimpaired but strengthened."

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SBS is the biggest of it’s kind in New Zealand with mortgages totaling £1.8 million – six times the amount of the next largest society.


Hugh Ritchie becomes the 6th Chairman of SBS (1947 – 1972).

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SBS opens branch in Gore.

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SBS celebrates 100 years.


SBS Director, Hugh Ritchie dies after 67 years of service.

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The Society’s operating surplus topped $1 million for the first time.

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January brings serious flooding in Invercargill. More than $1 million of SBS’ reserves go out in mortgage finance directly related to flood victims and their properties.

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The society opens its Windsor branch in North Invercargill.

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The Society passes $200 million in total assets. The Society’s reserves top $10 million in the same year.

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The Society opens its first branches in Christchurch, Dunedin and Queenstown.


SBS members vote against the sale of SBS to Westpac.

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The Southland Building and Investment Society re-brands to be know as SBS.

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SBS opens a branch in Nelson.

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SBS’ first subsidiary Finance Now is launched.

SBS opens it’s Invercargill based Contact Centre and expands to the North Island by opening a branch in Hamilton.


SBS opens its second and third branches in Christchurch.

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Full transactional banking and SBS website launched.  FANZ launched as a SBS subsidiary. Graham Duston is FANZ’s first employee.

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SBS opens branches in Cromwell and Timaru.

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SBS opens branches in Blenheim, and Tauranga.

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FANZ obtains a KiwiSaver license and launches the Lifestages KiwiSaver Scheme.


GFC hits the financial air waves. FANZ’s Advisory business becomes one of the few New Zealand investment firms not to have any investments that go into receivership, liquidation or any form of investor moratorium.

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SBS achieves bank registration on October 7, making history by becoming the first building society in the world to also become a registered bank. SBS total assets reach $2.43 billion.


HBS (Hastings Building Society) members vote 98% in favour of a merger with SBS Bank. The merger takes effect on 1 October 2010 and HBS is now re-named to SBS Bank.

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January 2015 FANZ Funds under Management total $516m.

July 2015 Ross Smith SBS Bank CEO retires after joining SBS Bank in 1992.

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FANZ puts investment screens on investments to reduce exposures to nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction.

FANZ launches Synergy Investment Programme.


FANZ launches SRI Low Carbon investment options.

January 2017 FANZ Funds under Management total $1.12bn.

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The Lifestages KiwiSaver offering produces carbon emissions that are over 80% lower than in 2016.

December FANZ Funds under Management total $1.5bn with over 22,000 clients.