The Toowoomba-based bank currently has 59 branches across southern Queensland but has been eyeing national growth through the development of a national footprint.
While the lender already has national access thanks to its broker partnerships, it has said that it also believes in the strength of a branch presence.
As such, the chief executive officer of Heritage Bank, Peter Lock, said that the lender would be “bucking the industry trend” of bank branch closures by opening its first interstate branch in the Castle Towers Shopping Centre in late October and another at Westfield Parramatta in December.
The two new branches in Sydney are reportedly part of a longer-term strategy for Heritage to open more branches in the Western Sydney area, as well as in the Melbourne metropolitan area.
The bank CEO commented: “Heritage has been providing home loans to customers throughout Australia for 20 years via mortgage brokers, as well as through our Queensland branches.
“We already have thousands of customers in Sydney, and we’ve had an office in Parramatta for many years to support our broker team. That means we’re not totally new to Sydney and we do understand the market.
“Opening branches in Sydney reflects our desire to increase our presence nationally and our belief that the Heritage brand can resonate strongly with consumers wherever they live,” he said.
Noting that there was a trend of banks closing branches, Mr Lock added that he “firmly believed” the discussion around “the imminent demise of physical branches is exaggerated”.
“People still want to come into a branch and talk face-to-face with an expert about the biggest financial commitments they will make in their lives, so branches will be around for many years to come,” he said.
Mr Lock went on to say that Heritage Bank was also excited to be “taking up the fight” to the big banks following the banking royal commission and its conclusion that some lenders had been “preferring pursuit of profit to pursuit of any other purpose”.
The Heritage Bank CEO elaborated: “There have been repeated calls for more competition in the banking industry, to help curb some of the profit-hungry excesses the royal commission uncovered.
“Well, Heritage is doing just that. As a customer-owned bank, we’re all about providing great value to customers, not about trying to extract the maximum amount of profit out of them like the big banks.
“We know it’s a huge challenge, given the size of the big banks and the competitiveness of the Sydney market. But we firmly believe that the people-first focus Heritage offers will be attractive to people looking for an alternative to the profit-driven banks they’ve been dealing with.”
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.