representing Officers and families of
The Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited
and its subsidiaries & affiliates.





13th November 1923 – 19th January 2015

Dear Members,

Sadly Vic Martin passed away peacefully in the presence of his wife, Lola, and family yesterday morning.  His daughter, Jan, has requested us to pass this sad news on and has informed us that although he was in no pain, he had been going slowly downhill and that is just the way he would have wanted to go.



Michael HOOK   (EULOGY FOR THE SERVICE OF VIC MARTIN on 27/1/2015)      

Lola and family, it was an honour to have this opportunity, on behalf of the CBC Officers Club, to pay a tribute to Vic.  Until recent years he attended our quarterly meetings regularly.  Former colleagues Kevin and Geoff will provide details of his career, sporting achievements & stellar achievements after CBC/NAB. Vic was well known both inside Banking and outside. However, I recall that a friend of mine , who (some 20 years ago) had become a member of Oatlands Golf Club and was half way through enjoying a round with Vic asked “what do you do for a living, Vic?”  The answer was “I work for a Bank”.  Later that day, in the Clubhouse, my friend was told “you just had a round with the CBC Managing Director”.   Another example of Vic’s modesty was when I heard him casually mention to the two Secretaries in the MD‘s Office (he was Deputy MD then) that they did not work FOR him they worked WITH him.   Our Bank had generally been acknowledged as an innovative, progressive organisation and was very attractive to any larger acquisitive financial group and Vic’s last decade had a HUGE positive effect.  In conclusion, let me say he was our CHAMPION! a champion  of the staff, of the finance industry, and in several sporting areas.


I have been asked to say a few words about Vic, particularly on his career (and what a career it has been) and his sporting achievements.

Vic gained his Leaving Certificate at Maitland High School on 1941. His father, the local Bank of Australasia manager thought that a banking career would suit Vic and got him to apply to the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited and he was accepted. Incidentally two of Vic’s brothers later joined Banks, Peter (CBC) and Robert (CTB) so they became a true banking family.

Vic’s early time in the Bank followed a normal pattern of junior branch appointments and in 1951 he was appointed to the position of Inspector’s assistant followed by a term as Managing Director’s assistant. In 1954 it was off to London Office and this was followed by attendance at the International Banking School at Oxford and on the way back home he spent a little time with the Canadian Bank of Commerce.

He returned to an appointment as Assistant Accountant Head Office and then branch management positions at Hamilton NSW and Alexandria. He quickly progressed to more senior appointments such as State Manager Qld, Chief Inspector, Assistant General Manager, General Manager Marketing and Planning and in 1976 the Board appointed him to Managing Director.

Vic was responsible for many innovative changes to our Bank. These included our change to Technology with the establishment of our St Leonards Centre and the start of an Organisation and Planning area. The Bank had been moving along on a rather conservative way and we employed some outside specialists to help us move a lot faster. Our share price responded accordingly. We were all very much behind our energetic leader who led from the front.

Merger with NAB talks came to a head and it was effected from 1983. Vic was appointed Joint Managing Director but he decided to retire later that Year.

Prior to this he had received an Order of Australia and he had headed up a Commonwealth Government enquiry into the Banking industry. Following his retirement he was Chairman of CAGA and then Chairman of MLC Life Assurance for 11 years.

But still Vic had time for leisure. On the sporting fields he had played grade cricket and later with CBC Cricket Club. Just may I add that our cricket club was 92 years old when the merger came and the club closed? However shortly afterwards the CBC Golden Oldies was formed and still plays, in fact they leave for a South African tour next month. Vic was their patron.

Vic was also a 1st grade Rugby player with Randwick, a Bank champion squash player, and was, as Lola will testify, every Saturday morning at Oaklands Golf club.

I am personally thankful for all the advice and guidance that Vic gave me and more importantly to the Bank.  He will be sorely missed


Lola and family, ladies and gentlemen, like my colleagues Kevin and Mike, I am greatly honoured to be asked to participate in this service for Vic Martin.

I am very conscious of the fact that there are many former bank colleagues here today who have known Vic for a long time and who would also have many wonderful and unforgettable memories of times spent at work or socially in Vic’s company.  So I will try to relate some of my personal experiences, as just one of Vic’s team, which I believe will represent how we all felt about a boss who was, by any measure, an outstanding banker and an exceptional leader.

My first meeting with Vic was at the Long Reef Golf Club on a Bank Holiday in the late 50’s.

After what could best be described as a convivial day, a group of us adjourned to his home to be greeted by a very surprised Lola.  A few more beers followed and a most enjoyable evening finished off with a rousing rendition of a popular song of the time called “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets”, much I must say to the embarrassment of Lola!

Little did we realise that in the future, this man and his lovely wife would be our future boss and first lady! ..... It was an enjoyable introduction to an aspect of Vic’s character that remained a part of him through all the more serious and formal occasions that were to follow.

As his career progressed, as outlined by Kevin, we all went on our separate careers in the Bank, meeting up with him and Lola at sporting and bank social functions. Once he reached senior management it became obvious that it was only a matter of time before the man who had been chosen early in his career to be General Manager’s Clerk, a highly prized position, would one day become the General  Manager.

My next personal connection with Vic came unexpectedly and “out of the blue”.  It was 1978 and he was now Chief Executive and Managing Director of the Bank.

A major executive reshuffle was to take pace due to the illness of senior executive.  On a memorable Friday afternoon the phones were ringing with Vic’s Personal Assistant Philippa Biddulph summonsing a number of us to “The Boss’s Office”

It was the CBC’s turn that year to host the Banker’s Ball and I was fairly sure that I was there for Vic to ask me to be the Hon. Secretary of the Organising Committee.  When it was my turn to go into that imposing office, Vic invited me to sit and began to explain the changes in Senior Management he was in the process of making.  He began by apologising for the fact that some things were happening sooner than he had planned, including what he was about to tell me.  I knew then it was not the Banker’s Ball.

To my surprise, and great pleasure he said, with that slight smile on his face, “I am appointing you today Chief Manager of the International Division.”

Before I could utter a word he added – “You are to come with me and the Chairman in a few weeks to the opening of our new Rep. Office in Tokyo, then you are to go to London and visit our West  End Branch.  I want you to report on whether we should close or keep open West End Piccadilly.  Then you are to return via New York and let me know how our new Manager Operations is settling in, and then he added – “I’m giving you the challenge to continue the growth of International Division and particularly to increase our share of the foreign exchange market in Australia.”  He came around to my side of his desk, held out his hand and with that authoritative and determined look he added with that wry smile – “and you know what will happen if you don’t – my boot will be right at your backside”

That was an example of his management style – you knew exactly where you stood with him and there was no way you would not do your utmost to justify the trust he placed in you.

Many of my colleagues here today would have had similar experiences during Vic’s time as MD – We all recognised him as a leader, quiet in manner, determined, purposeful, unostentatious and always willing to listen to new ideas which we encouraged.  He could be as tough as nails but also capable of showing care and compassion.

You could understand that, because of the high regard in which Vic was held.  There have been many conversations and reminisces this past week.  One of the calls I received last week was from a retired Senior Executive who, in the late 70’s, had been through a very personal and traumatic period with the serious illness of his daughter, resulting tragically in her untimely death.

Vic was overseas on bank business at the time and it was not until six weeks after his return that he was made aware of the circumstances.  He did not phone and ask his colleague to come and see him – he just turned up unannounced to his office and explained he had not been aware of the circumstances.  As a family man with daughters he was deeply concerned and expressed his feelings in a very sincere manner.

He chatted about life and the challenges in raising a family.  The concern and compassion he showed that day has never been forgotten by our colleague. It was just another example of the care he felt for all his colleagues.

In the years that followed, I cannot recall him raising his voice in anger, although there were no doubt times when he felt frustration.  This would occur on the rare occasions when he was let down by a careless member of staff or management or when events of a political nature were not to his liking.

During his Managing Directorship there were significant changes happening in the financial system in Australia.  He was astute enough to realise that CBC would have to lift its game.  He set about changing the structure of the Bank, took advice from experienced consultants, brought in new talent from overseas and locally, established a new computer system and selected and backed his staff to manage and develop its capabilities. He introduced many other new initiatives - and customers and the market soon realised that good things were happening at the CBC under his leadership, which was reflected in the price of bank shares.

With a change in Government in 1983, policies in regard to banking were changing and foreign banks were able to apply for banking licences.  Mergers between the eight major trading banks were inevitable and the CBC, because of its success, was a prime target.

As much as Vic and the management and staff would have liked to continue as the CBC, market forces dictated that a merger was inevitable.  And so the CBC and the NBA merged and Vic became the Joint Managing Director of the newly merged National Australia Bank.  With the same resolve that he had shown throughout his career with the CBC, he encouraged his management staff to get behind the new bank and show the same spirit and enthusiasm that they had all displayed in the CBC.

After assisting in the establishment of the new bank, Vic retired and his services were soon sought by major Australian companies, such as Lend Lease, where he was a Director from 1984 to ‘94, and Director of the Australian Bank from 1985 to ’88.  In 1983 the Federal Government appointed him Chairman of a Report Review Group into the Australian Financial system, recognising his knowledge and success in banking in Australia.  The Martin Report was to become an important contribution to the future of banking and finance in Australia.

Apart from the many accolades Vic received in his banking and business career, there was one final recognition to come.  In the Australia Day honours in January 1985, Vic was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO) for his services to banking, which included two terms as Chairman of the Australian Bankers Association and for his considerable personal effort in producing the Martin Report.

Over the years since retirement many of us were able to catch up with Vic and Lola at the CBC Retired Officers Club gatherings.  Although it became apparent that his health was not the best, he kept coming along to the meetings whenever possible.

Over the past 18 months, I kept in touch with Lola and visited Vic many times in the Aged Care Facility at Concord.  Although his health was declining he still enjoyed talking about the Bank, the people, the characters and we always shared a few humorous moments, particularly about overseas visits.

There is so much more that I and others could relate about this remarkable Australian, but time does not permit that here today.  Whenever we meet in the future, there will always be plenty to reflect on how Vic Martin affected our lives and we are all the better for having known him.

My final words in this eulogy are for Vic’s grandchildren – Ruby, Josephine, Kirsten, Lachlan and Matthew.  You will have heard very meaningful tributes spoken today about your Grandfather, mostly by people you have never met.  I hope that some of the Martin charisma is already a part of your life and that you will have the opportunity to inspire others just like your Grandfather did to so many of us.      Thank You

 Noel SMITH MBE   In the late 1960‘s I was a Manager’s Clerk working with Vic Martin, who was then Assistant Manager Melbourne Office.  It was a definitive learning experience, a rewarding time which I will always cherish.

Vic was a skilled and experienced banker, empathetic and understanding with a capacity to effectively communicate with people at all levels. He was an elite banker, destined one day to lead the CBC.  Like many others, I was proud to work under his exemplary leadership.

I played cricket with Vic for the bank in the Mercantile Cricket Association in Melbourne. Despite his seniority, his friendly and natural disposition endeared him to all. However he was not beyond ‘taking the mickey’ where he could: During one game, my just acquired brand new HD Holden was parked close to the ground - Vic knew how proud I felt about it. Fielding in slips together, Vic said....”What happened to your car Smithy? It looks like you have a dent in the door.” It was a great relief to find at close of play that he had been ‘having a lend’ of me!

It is hard to express the extent of my respect and appreciation of the man I feel had such a positive impact on my banking career.  I express my deep sympathy to Mrs Martin and the Martin family on this sad occasion.

Rest in peace Vic Martin..............and thank you so much for the memories.

 John GALL  OAM   It is with extreme sadness that I write this tribute to Vic Martin.   My relationship with him goes back a very long way, initially when we played cricket together when he Captained the CBC Cricket team in the City and Suburban competition in the late 1950s.  I have many memories from those days.

Vic as a Captain was a quiet inspiration, a person of few words.  He did not make eloquent speeches, and as I was the teams opening bowler in those  days, when we  played  at the hot humid Gladesville Oval, frequently ,

if the opposition was say 7 wickets down at 5 30 pm (with half an hour to go), even though I was tired and had probably bowled 15 overs earlier in the afternoon he used to throw me the ball and just say "finish them off John", without further instructions, so mostly I did as I was asked.  We both moved on to golf and over the years, he several times invited me to be his guest on invitation days at his Club, Oatlands Golf Club.

From a business perspective, when I later headed the Bank's Asia Pacific Area in International Division.

I had the great pleasure to escort him (i.e. carry his bag) on business trips to Asia , Japan, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan when he was the Bank's CEO. My mind is still rich with many great memories of the Bank's achievements and the friendships developed as a result of those trips. Probably the highlight was on a visit to China in 1979 which coincided with the opening up of modern China, when the prestigious Bank of China agreed to send two trainees to the CBC in Australia, the first time this had happened since China became Communist in 1949. This put the CBC in a very preferred position compared to Australia's other major banks at that time. I also recall on our first trip to Tokyo in 1975, after a dinner, taking Vic for a drink at a Bar I knew in downtown Ginza, rather implying that it was my first time there.  Unfortunately when we walked in some of the staff recognized me (hello John-San welcome back) and Vic said rather suspiciously with that knowing grin of his  "Never been here before have you John ? "  Co-incidentally it was on this same trip to Tokyo on 17 November 1975 that Vic took a phone call from Sydney to be advised that the Governor General, Sir John Kerr, had that day sacked Gough Whitlam as Prime Minister.

Sadly, Vic's passing brings to an end a fantastic era of the Martin family in the long history of the CBC which also included his younger brother Peter who was a Senior Executive in the Bank in the same years.

It goes without saying that Vic was a great leader with quite charisma and influence no matter what task he took on. He always enjoyed a drink with his team after the event. His quiet assured and respectful ways provided confidence in all who knew him, whether socially or in business or playing sport with him. He will be forever remembered and greatly missed by us all.

 David WYNDHAM   I first worked for Vic when I moved from the role as an inspector's clerk on the 3rd floor to become his clerk on the 2nd floor. At that time Vic was the AGM Branch Banking. I worked with him for 4 years and then I became clerk to Geoff Bowen. When Mr Bowen (later Sir Geoffrey) retired, Vic became GM of the bank so I spent another 3 years as his clerk in his new top role in the bank.

Vic was always a thorough professional with a wicked sense of humour and always prepared to give you jobs to stretch your experience and make you a better banker.

Relationships on the 2nd floor were always very formal in those days-during the 1970's, but he always had a quip and was a wonderful mentor to me during my time with him in both roles. He sat with me one evening when I am sure he had many other things to do to map out what he wanted me to do with my career in the bank.

He was a man who was both loved and respected by all in the bank and in business generally. I never heard him say a bad word of any of his colleagues.  Vic was an example to us all and someone who will always be fondly remembered in the "CBC Family".   Rest In Peace Mr Martin.

 Lana CAMPBELL   Please pass my condolences to his family.  I now live in Tasmania and will not be able to attend his service. I was his Secretary in Sydney at the time of the Merger.

David PIRNIE    It was very sad to hear of Vic`s passing.  My condolences and deepest sympathies to Lola and their family.  He will be missed and remembered fondly throughout the business community.

 Des AKERS   Working with Vic in Melbourne in the 60’s and seeing at first hand his early leadership qualities was one thing, but sharing his sporting/social activities was another.  He was a fierce competitor in sport and many a time we played golf on Saturday mornings and then cricket in the afternoon followed by the customary “review of the day’s play” over drinks at the South Melbourne Cricket Club until stumps.  But despite this social relationship, no one ever took advantage of it in later years because of the respect we all held for Vic.

Above all, he will be remembered for his leadership as Managing Director of the CBC when he was still the same old Vic who was always approachable and prepared to listen. A quality that is so lacking in leaders of so many enterprises and government today. Vale Vic, we salute you.

 David BORDER   A sad day. Vic, known to us all, was a pure gentlemen and a pleasure to meet on the 3rd floor as I recall at any time of the day. He, for me, brings back fond memories of my banking days with Charlie Kerr and many others.  Sadly I'm in Singapore and unable to attend his funeral, but my thoughts are with the family.

 Max VARDY   A thorough gentleman and my pleasure to have known him.  My condolences to the family.

 Darryl SEMMLER   I am so sorry to hear the news that Vic has passed on. I am moved today to acknowledge a man I admired and respected. Vic championed humility and always showed warmth and acceptance to all he met. He always said hello and asked about you no matter what level of officer you were and to his wonderful credit always knew who you were by name.  My prayers to his family. God bless.  (CBC/NAB Officer 1971 – 1988)

 Richard NOTT  Almost everyone could make a comment about Vic and all of them positive and most glowing in praise of his intellect, management style, quiet but firm personality and industry. Having been one of the O&M team one had a chance to know him well and see his problem solving and task synthesis in action. Later he became Chairman of Australian Bank where I was the General Manager Banking and I had a second chance to work with Vic and get to know him on a more personal level. My last gathering with him was with he and Lola at Dick Balcomb’s home for lunch where he was still his old self and I had a chance belatedly to thank him for his support over many years. (This was a good lesson to me as we do not often get a second chance to appreciate people. Say it whilst we can.) As was his usual manner, he was gracious and positive. In many ways he was a role model for most of us and I value his leadership and the opportunities he provided to most of us.  A wonderful life and a great corporate citizen.

 Donald COBCROFT    This is sad news, however we all appreciate that one can’t last here forever and Vic has been a monumental part of the CBC in many ways.

 Fred HARVISON   In my mind, Vic Martin was, and will remain, a great man and a wonderful leader. His appointment as Managing Director heralded a new direction for a truly great bank and, I believe, was eagerly embraced by all of us who were serving at that time. It was a period of rejuvenation which engendered a true sense of purpose for us all.

But for the merger, CBC would have become an even greater bank under Vic's leadership. We were streets ahead of others, not only with the automation of customers' accounts under David Smith's tutelage, but also due to the calibre of staff at all levels.  In the Army, I learned that to be a successful leader, one "must know his job, know himself and know his men". That, to my mind, described Vic to a tee.  I believe one of Vic's greatest strengths was his encouragement of us to 'have a go'; be innovative; make decisions and question 'Why'. Such was his belief in us all.

Vic, by his very presence and willingness to listen, encouraged a tremendous sense of loyalty among us. It certainly did with me. As I mentioned to Mrs Martin at David Clarke's funeral, 'Vic was so loved by his staff that if he asked us to crash through that brick wall we would have done so without question".

I still remember watching Vic at social functions, mingling with staff. He would carry the same drink all night and listen to people as they became more 'confident' as they oiled their throats!

It wasn't uncommon for senior management to receive a note from Vic the following day raising some issue that had been discussed with him! (Having been in Personnel at the time, I had first-hand experience of this).

After I left the bank I joined the (then) State Building Society, and shortly after attended a course on Strategic Human Resource Management at the AGSM at UNSW. During one of the sessions, I raised Vic's leadership during the merger, and this became a topic of discussion among the group. It fitted in so well with the course!  And in an obtuse way, I used Vic as a case model when I lectured on leadership and management to junior Army Reserve Officers.

Vic will not be forgotten by any of us. He stood tall and was an inspiration. It is so sad that Vic had to spend his last few years as he did!  I'm sure God will second him to conduct a review of the process in Heaven and then have him implement his recommendations!! That augers well for the rest of us down the track!

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Last modified: 25/05/2017 15:40

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