Heritage Bank says that while "the other banks keep on downsizing their total branch numbers" it is maintaining the size of its network by investing in new branches to help provide a personal connection for members, alongside state-of-the art online services.
The bank opened new branches at Castle Hill and Parramatta in late 2019 to kick-start its interstate expansion program, initially targeting Sydney and then looking to Melbourne.
The COVID-19 pandemic put the expansion plans temporarily on hold, but CEO Peter Lock said the time was now right to resume the program.
“Heritage is bucking the industry trend by opening new branches and maintaining the size of our branch network. At times we may need to change the spread of our branches, but if we close in one area we look to open in another. I firmly believe branches still play an extremely important role in providing customers with the personal connection they’re craving,” he said.
“The big banks are continuing to close down branches and reduce the size of their networks. When your main focus is on maximising profit, that’s the kind of decision you make.
“But with a customer-owned bank like Heritage, our focus is on serving our members. We know many people appreciate the convenience of digital banking channels, but also love the personal connection they enjoy at a branch. “It’s not one or the other – branches are still very important as part of the omni-channel experience that customers demand these days.”
Heritage says the move into Sydney has been a success, despite the impacts of COVID.
Lock said the Castle Hill and Parramatta branches had together attracted a significant number of new members - $30 million in mortgage lending and more than $100 million in deposits in their first year, even though COVID struck soon after opening - and the third Sydney branch would build on that success.
Lock said the Macquarie Park branch would be located in the Macquarie Centre Shopping Centre, within 20 kilometres of Heritage’s Castle Hill and Parramatta branches.
“This will create a cluster of branches in Sydney that can support each other operationally and generate greater awareness.
“Macquarie Park is an extremely attractive suburb given its demographics and location, with the business park and university creating plenty of opportunities for us to build a presence.
“Similarly, the new branch at Tweed City Shopping Centre will form a cluster with existing Gold Coast branches on the Queensland side of the border, but will open up our ability to target growth in the booming northern New South Wales corridor.
“Our long term plans remain to open more branches in Sydney, and eventually Melbourne as well. “For the time being however, we will focus on getting these two new branches up and running, and especially making our Sydney cluster hum, before we look further afield.”
The Macquarie Park Branch is due to open in late September and the Tweed Heads Branch in mid-October this year.