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Green change leaders: customer owned banks showcase regional Australia

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Customer owned banks are demonstrating that regional communities can be home to some of the most sophisticated businesses and attractive job opportunities in Australia.

The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) has challenged the long-standing notion that location is a barrier to employment with new research showing a highly mobile population. In a five-year period, over 1.2 million people either moved to regional Australia or moved around regional Australia from one location to another.

In light of COVID-19 and the uptake of a mobile and remote workforce, the RAI proposes that more Australians will consider relocating to regional communities where the lower cost of living, job prospects and work-life balance are potential drawcards.

Michael Lawrence, CEO of the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA), says the success and commitment of customer owned banks in regional Australia presents a compelling argument for ‘green change’.

“Customer owned banks take pride in being part of the fabric of regional communities. Half of the banking institutions in our sector have their headquarters outside the major capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra.

“Of COBA’s 15 largest members, 11 are headquartered outside Sydney and Melbourne and five of these are based in regional centres.

“These are innovative, customer-focused, sophisticated businesses, and their head office is often in the main street of town. They embed cutting-edge technology, best practice, sustainability, and a dedication to their customers which is unrivalled in banking.

“These businesses are strong employers, with positions ranging from entry-level opportunities for school leavers, through to C-suite and board positions and avenues of career advancement. As banking institutions, these firms ensure that local savings are pumped back into the community through lending to households and businesses.

“Customer owned banks are at the forefront of digital connectivity. During COVID-19 they prioritised the safety of employees and customers, swiftly adopting remote and home working arrangements. This approach is winning over millennials who are seeking progressive, socially-minded businesses with roots in local communities.”

COBA’s largest 10 members with head offices outside capital cities

Heritage Bank (Toowomba), Newcastle Permanent (Newcastle), Greater Bank (Newcastle), IMB Bank (Wollongong), Queensland Country Bank (Townsville), Regional Australia Bank (Armidale), Hume Bank (Albury), Bank of Us (Launceston), The Mutual Bank (Maitland), Summerland (Lismore).

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