Heritage Bank and People’s Choice Credit Union eyeing merger

Beach in Adelaide.

A major move is in the works in the customer-owned banking scene as Toowoomba-based Heritage Bank and Adelaide-based People’s Choice Credit Union are currently looking to join forces.

The two organisations have entered into a non-binding agreement to explore a merger opportunity, with a member vote proposed for early 2022 should both decide to proceed.

“We recognise that we are both strong businesses, with approximately the same number of members, employees and assets so if a merger proceeds it would be a true merger of equals,” said People’s Choice Chairman Michael Cameron.

If all goes as expected, the combined entity will boast around 700,000 members and $22 billion in total assets, making it one of Australia’s largest customer-owned banking organisations.

Chief executive of Heritage Bank Peter Lock highlighted the benefits increased scale would bring to both sets of customers, such as enhanced digital capabilities and access to a broader range of products and services. 

“While we are both successful organisations, joining forces would provide us with the scale, profile and nationwide presence to redefine mutual banking for current and future members,” he said.

Mutual status will also be retained, and employees have been assured that there will be no branch closures or non-executive redundancies.

“People’s Choice and Heritage are both strong values-driven organisations that are committed to mutuality, their members, employees and the communities that they operate in,” People’s Choice chief executive Steve Laidlaw said.

RELATED: Newcastle Permanent and Greater Bank to join forces

The move comes not long after Newcastle Permanent and Greater Bank, two Hunter-based organisations, announced they were fleshing out plans to combine resources.

At the time, CEO of Greater Bank Scott Morgan spoke of the difficulties smaller organisations face in a sector dominated by large corporate players.

“Smaller organisations can be at a disadvantage in keeping pace with required investment in frequent and complex technology advancements; a decade ago there were circa 200 mutuals across Australia, today the number is fewer than 70,” he said.

“Success in the banking sector is dependent on the ability to rapidly adapt, meet evolving customer expectations and new regulatory demands.”

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