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Banking on Queensland: Customer-owned banks committed to locals


As Queensland prepares to adapt to a new banking landscape, the state’s customer-owned banks are encouraging locals to consider the numerous homegrown alternatives that put customers and local communities first.

In total, 9 mutual banks and credit unions call Queensland home, collectively serving over 1.7 million members, employing 3,700 full-time staff, and boasting a combined 763 years of service to the state according to data from the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA). With a collective $60 billion in assets, customer-owned banks with headquarters in Queensland are a major contributor to the state economy. 

“Queensland’s homegrown banking heroes are dedicated to serving locals, and provide a compelling, purpose-led banking alternative that priorities the needs of customers and communities,” COBA CEO Michael Lawrence said.

Customer-owned banks offer a distinct alternative to investor-owned banks. The unique model prioritises reinvesting profits back into customers and communities, rather than maximising shareholder returns. This allows customer-owned banks to make decisions that genuinely benefit Queenslanders, such as offering competitive rates, better local service and reinvesting in communities instead of simply generating the highest dividends.

“We’re supporting over 100,000 members with their banking needs, employ over 450 Queenslanders, and we have given back over $2.8 million to the local communities in which we operate through grants and sponsorships,” said Queensland Country Bank CEO Aaron Newman.

“Great Southern Bank’s Brisbane headquarters employs more than 750 people and we have a strong Queensland heritage. We offer a credible and competitive alternative to the major lenders, focused on helping Australians to own their own home,” Great Southern Bank’s CEO Paul Lewis said.

As Queensland navigates a shifting financial landscape, Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ announcement on June 14 of a review into the regulation of smaller and medium-sized banks is welcome news for the state’s customer-owned banks.

“This review could significantly influence the level of competition and choice for the Sunshine State. By empowering smaller banks, we hope the review will ensure that Queenslanders benefit from a diverse and dynamic banking sector,” The Capricornian CEO Dale Grounds said.

Queensland’s customer-owned banks have a rich history of serving the state’s diverse communities. Cairns Bank was established in 1899 as a ‘penny bank’ to offer a crucial lifeline for working-class individuals who were excluded from traditional banking due to high minimum deposit requirements. Queensland Country Bank was founded in 1971 by the local Mount Isa community due to miners’ need for basic banking and small lending options. People First Bank had its origins as the Toowoomba Permanent Building Society in 1875, and is now investing in a new head office in Toowoomba to ensure they continue to bring local knowledge, experience and employment opportunities.

“Their legacy lives on and customer-owned banks’ ethos remains unchanged: providing purpose-led banking that puts customers and communities first,” Michael Lawrence said.

Collectively, customer-owned banks serve 5 million customers, and research has found that mutual banks and credit unions are collectively the most trusted and have the highest customer satisfaction scores when it comes to banking in Australia[1].

With 55 customer-owned banks to choose from, COBA has developed Find-a-Bank; an online tool which helps Aussies find a purpose-led bank that aligns with their needs and values. Head to findabank.com.au.

COBA’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Lawrence, is available for interviews.  For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact Mira Palomaki on media@coba.asn.au

The Customer Owned Banking Association is the industry body for mutual banks, credit unions and building societies. For almost 180 years our sector has put customers first, returning profits to more than 5 million Australians who put their trust in customer-owned banks

[1] https://www.customerownedbanking.asn.au/customer-owned-banks-as-a-group-are-the-mosttrusted-banks-in-australia-roy-morgan/ and https://www.customerownedbanking.asn.au/customer-owned-banks-serve-the-most-satisfied-banking-customers/

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