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Community Branch Network

Heritage local community branches are big contributors to their local community. Heritage currently has seven community branches at:
  • Crows Nest
  • Forest Lake
  • Highfields
  • Karalee
  • Millmerran
  • Nanango
  • Palmwoods

Read first hand about the success of Crows Nest, Highfields and Nanango community branches from community board members.

Crows Nest and Highfields

In 1999 a small enthusiastic group of local people decided to bring a better financial service to Crows Nest. We were armed with new research on the devastating consequences of rural bank closures, and we learned that we too would soon go down that path.

As we examined the possibility of starting our own bank or credit union, a franchise, a partnership, or similar enterprise, it became clear that the Heritage community banking model made the most sense and could satisfy the specific needs of our community. It was a great deal less expensive to start (less than half the cost of the other main community banking model) and once the doors were open, more money stayed here. Not only that, but we receive very well priced financial products, with lower lending rates and fees and higher deposit rates! This is a joint venture where we share the costs and the profits. The more the community supports the branch the greater the profit and the more the community shares in that profit.

From the beginning we received great support from Heritage senior management who gave freely of their time and expertise. That experience continued when we proposed setting up another community branch at nearby Highfields, a town experiencing a population boom but without any banking facilities.

Underpinning these branches was a wide range of local people willing to invest their money, between $100 and $5,000 in the joint venture. They formed a company to run the branch while Heritage manages the day-to-day operations. Investors can claim their investment, with interest, after the branch turns its first profit. Since opening we have ploughed over $6 million back into the local Crows Nest and Highfields community.

Howard Littleton, Progressive Community Crows Nest Ltd

Nanango

When the big banks deserted the Nanango-Yarraman district, concerned citizens refused to cop it and investigated the possibility of providing an alternative secure banking service. After talking to a number of banks and other banking providers we felt it was more beneficial to Nanango to team up with Heritage. For a start, Heritage requires far less start-up capital.

A public meeting gave the project the ‘thumbs up' and a survey found there would be sufficient customers to make it a viable business. Dedicated people door knocked the district to raise capital and were overwhelmed with the amount pledged. The project was 60% oversubscribed!

We anticipated some early trading losses but the branch is now well in profit from which the investors were paid a healthy return. Better still, funds are being distributed for the improvement of the district's community facilities.

Heritage is a great organisation to work with. Support and encouragement from Board level, CEO and staff is second to none. I recommend Heritage to any community thinking of setting up a branch.

There are significant benefits for our community. These include:

  • Eliminating travel to do the banking
  • People are more likely to spend their money locally
  • Competitive rates and products 
  • Longer trading hours than the major banks
  • A better return for investors 
  • Profits going back to the community   

Success is dependent on ensuring the project is community driven with as many investors as possible from a wide cross-section of the community. The future of Nanango now looks secure thanks to the community and Heritage working together.

Bob Head, Nanango Progressive Community Ltd.