18 July 2022
ANZ’s proposed takeover of the Suncorp banking division will do nothing to promote competition and will further entrench the Sydney/Melbourne myopia in the banking sector, Heritage Bank CEO Peter Lock said today.
Mr Lock said it was a sad day to see the loss of a Queensland-based bank, especially when it is being swallowed up by one of the big banks.
He said the dominance of the major banks, all based in Sydney and Melbourne, did nothing to promote competition or bring the different perspective that comes from being located outside that metropolitan bubble.
He also said Suncorp’s takeover was illustrative of the demise of the regional banks, which was creating an opportunity for a powerful mutual alternative that the planned merger of Heritage Bank and People’s Choice would provide.
“The takeover of Suncorp by ANZ will simply increase the power of the major banks in Australia. That’s not great news for banking consumers,” Mr Lock said.
“It’s even worse that we’re losing a Queensland-based bank, and the different perspective that brings. Having all the major banks based in Sydney and Melbourne means that there is a metropolitan perspective that dominates, when it’s not really representative of the rest of the country.
“It’s also a case of a listed big bank swallowing up another listed regional bank, eliminating that level of the sector.
“What it does mean is the time is ripe for the ascendancy of the mutual sector. We offer a genuine alternative, with a completely different model. The big banks exist to maximise profits, so they can pay dividends to their shareholders. They have an inherent conflict of interest in trying to serve both customers and shareholders.
“If anyone thinks the takeover of Suncorp will be good news for Queensland, they need to think again. The pressure will be on to strip costs and generate more profits, to create a return for shareholders.
“Mutuals don’t have that conflict. Our customers are our owners, and we only exist to serve them and their communities.
“With regional banks like Suncorp fast being swallowed up, people want genuine alternatives to the big banks and the listed banking sector.
“Our proposed merger with People’s Choice provides exactly that. The merged organisation would be one of the top 10 biggest Australian owned banks in the country, but offering a customer-owned model that is very different to the majors.
“We’re also committed to maintaining dual head offices in Adelaide and Toowoomba, outside the Sydney/Melbourne bubble, so we offer a genuinely different perspective to the big banks.
“Our proposed merger would create a genuine new national mutual alternative that can fill the void being increasingly left by the demise of the regionals.
“The time has come for Australians to realise there are alternatives to the listed bank model – alternatives that put people before profit.”