23 July 2019
Queensland-based mutual Heritage Bank is defying both industry trends and a highly competitive market by announcing it will open two branches in Sydney later this year – the first ever outside its home state.
Heritage will open one branch in the Castle Towers Shopping Centre in late October and another at Westfield Parramatta in December.
Heritage is Australia’s largest customer-owned bank. Based in the regional city of Toowoomba, Heritage has 59 branches across southern Queensland, $10 billion in total consolidated assets and 800 staff members.
Chief Executive Officer Peter Lock said the move into bricks and mortar in Sydney reflected Heritage’s desire to build its national footprint and its belief in the future of the branch concept.
“Heritage has been providing home loans to customers throughout Australia for 20 years via mortgage brokers, as well as through our Queensland branches. We already have thousands of customers in Sydney, and we’ve had an office in Parramatta for many years to support our broker team,” he said.
“That means we’re not totally new to Sydney and we do understand the market.
“Opening branches in Sydney reflects our desire to increase our presence nationally and our belief that the Heritage brand can resonate strongly with consumers wherever they live.
“We’re excited to be bucking the industry trend by opening new branches. I firmly believe that talk about the imminent demise of physical branches is exaggerated. People still want to come into a branch and talk face-to-face with an expert about the biggest financial commitments they will make in their lives, so branches will be around for many years to come.”
As well as new branches, Mr Lock said Heritage was also forging ahead with improvements to its digital capabilities, and is a leader in Australia in the field of pre-paid cards, as well as an early innovator in virtual payment technologies. Heritage is the largest issuer of pre-paid cards in Australia, and in particular issues around 50% of travel cards in the country, from its base in Toowoomba.
“Companies including Qantas, Optus, Australia Post and MasterCard have partnered with Heritage to deliver a range of products that use pre-paid card and virtual payment technologies,” Mr Lock said.
“We’re a bank that punches well above our weight in the sector.”
Mr Lock said Heritage was also excited to be taking up the fight to the big banks in the post Hayne Royal Commission environment.
“There’s been repeated calls for more competition in the banking industry, to help curb some of the profit-hungry excesses the Royal Commission uncovered,” he said.
“Well, Heritage is doing just that. As a customer-owned bank, we’re all about providing great value to customers, not about trying to extract the maximum amount of profit out of them like the big banks.
“We know it’s a huge challenge, given the size of the big banks and the competiveness of the Sydney market. But we firmly believe that the people-first focus Heritage offers will be attractive to people looking for an alternative to the profit driven banks they’ve been dealing with.”
Heritage carried out extensive research before choosing Castle Hill and Parramatta as the locations for its first Sydney branches.
Mr Lock said the Western and North-Western areas of Sydney were demographically suited to Heritage’s product offerings and philosophy.
“We’re about providing personalised service and great value, whether that’s a young family trying to get the best deal on their first home or a retiree looking to maximise the return on their savings.
“It’s no accident that we took out Roy Morgan’s Bank of the Year award for Customer Satisfaction earlier this year, ahead of all other banks in the country.
“We offer something special that we hope many more people will discover through our new branches in Sydney.”
The two new branches in Sydney are part of a longer term strategy for Heritage to open more branches in the Western Sydney area, as well as in suitable growth corridors in the Melbourne metropolitan area.