Members approve merger of Heritage and People’s Choice

Updated 18 November 2022

Heritage Bank and People’s Choice Credit Union will embark on an exciting future together as a positive new force in the Australian banking sector, after members of both organisations voted strongly in favour of their merger. 

The two organisations each held member votes on 16 November, with the provisional results indicating a clear approval for the merger. Both organisations needed to have at least 75% of voting members in favour of the proposal for it to be approved.

The provisional vote outcomes were validated and confirmed, with the final results confirmed on 18 November.

Strong future together

People’s Choice and Heritage are two of Australia’s most successful customer-owned financial institutions, sharing strong cultural alignment, deep regional roots and an absolute commitment to mutuality. 

The new entity will have over 720,000 members, 1,900 employees, over $23 billion in assets and 95 branches across South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory. 

Heritage CEO, Peter Lock said, “This is a milestone moment for the mutual banking sector and will provide existing and new members with a strong alternative to the big banks – an organisation with a national footprint that is owned by members and exists for the sole purpose of serving its members. 

“Our organisations have a shared purpose – to help members reach their financial goals. This merger combines the best of both organisations, enabling us to build on our individual strengths while having greater size and scale to deliver more for members.” 

People’s Choice CEO, Steve Laidlaw said, “This is a very exciting step that will see us become Australia’s leading member-owned banking organisation. By combining our highly complementary businesses, we’ll deliver significant member benefits including enhanced products, services, digital capabilities and competitive pricing through a growing national footprint, while also increasing support for community and environmental initiatives. 

“This is a big win for the mutual sector and significant for the broader banking industry as we’ll be able to provide a strong member-owned choice for consumers.”

The merged entity will continue to provide local knowledge, employment and investment through its dual head offices in Toowoomba and Adelaide. The Board of the merged organisation will comprise an equal number of directors from People’s Choice and Heritage. 

Chairman of People’s Choice, Michael Cameron said, “People’s Choice and Heritage are the perfect partners. Not only are we alike in size, but we also share very similar values, strategic aims and an absolute member focus. This is a true merger of equals. We are delighted that members saw the benefits of the merger and endorsed the proposal so strongly.”

Heritage Chairman, Kerry Betros said, “Together, we will be stronger, more secure and capable of providing more for our members. I look forward to working together as we integrate our two businesses through a shared purpose and commitment to mutuality.”

Next steps

With member approvals now secured, the organisations are awaiting final regulatory approval for the merger. 

Work is now underway to prepare for the two organisations to come together as a single organisation from 1 March 2023, with a focus on continuing to meet the needs of members. 

Current People’s Choice Chairman Michael Cameron will become the Chairman of the new organisation, with Heritage Chairman Kerry Betros to become Deputy Chairman.

Current Heritage CEO Peter Lock will become the CEO of the new organisation, with People’s Choice CEO Steve Laidlaw to become the Deputy CEO. Mr Lock will retire 18 months after the establishment of the merged organisation, when Mr Laidlaw will be appointed as CEO.

The new organisation will continue to operate under the existing brands of Heritage Bank and People’s Choice for an interim period during the initial integration process.  

After that interim period, the merged organisation will adopt a new name and brand, which will reflect the aspirations of the new organisation as well as the proud legacies of both Heritage and People’s Choice.

There will be no branch closures as a result of the merger and no redundancies below executive level. Members will continue to be served by the same friendly employees in the same locations, as there is no geographical duplication of the two organisations’ branch presence. Dual head offices will be maintained in Adelaide and Toowoomba.

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PHOTO: Heritage Bank CEO Peter Lock (left) and People’s Choice CEO Steve Laidlaw acknowledge the approval of the merger proposal by members

Heritage Bank CEO Peter Lock and People's Choice Credit Union CEO Steve Laidlaw


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