By HARRY CLARKE
THE merger between the Toowoomba-headquartered Heritage Bank and Adelaide’s People’s Choice Credit Union is now official, creating a new entity which is the largest member-owned financial institution in Australia.
The merger follows a vote last year by the two banks’ combined 720,000 members and the issuing of a joint statement this morning announcing that the partnership had been finalised.
The new member-owned bank has 1,900 employees, more than $23 billion in assets and 95 branches across South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
“We move forward from today maintaining our total commitment to helping members reach their financial goals and life aspirations,” said Chairman Michael Cameron.
“The transition to one organisation has been made much smoother because we already share remarkably similar cultures, values and strategic goals.
“This is an exciting opportunity for all of us – our members, our employees, and our communities – to be part of creating something special in the Australian banking sector.”
Chief Executive Peter Lock said the merger was a milestone moment for the Australian banking sector.
“We’ve brought together two of Australia’s most successful customer-owned financial institutions to create a strong national mutual alternative to the big banks,” Lock said.
“The reality is Australians only have two choices when it comes to banking – they can go with a listed bank, which has profit maximisation as its top priority, or they can go for a customer-owned bank, which is solely focused on meeting the needs of its members.”
The new entity will continue trading under the existing brand names of Heritage Bank and People’s Choice for an interim period of about 12 months.
After that, a fresh brand name will be created. The board of the merged organisation will comprise an equal number of directors from People’s Choice and Heritage.
The merged entity will maintain dual head offices in Toowoomba and Adelaide.