Heritage Bank’s (Heritage) fourth NSW branch has commenced trading, with the non-major bank’s Tweed Heads location officially opening its doors earlier this month.
The addition comes less than two months after Heritage’s Macquarie Park branch opened its doors on 1 November.
The Queensland-originated lender first revealed its plans to establish branches in these locations in May, with planned opening dates then respectively set for September and October.
Heritage opened its first and second NSW-based locations in 2019, beginning in Castle Hill during July, followed by Parramatta in December.
Speaking of the opening, Heritage chief executive Peter Lock said the logic behind the decision comes from the bank’s history of operating a branch network throughout the nearby Gold Coast, and that this addition will provide an extension of its “current network for operational purposes” as well as allowing Heritage to “capitalise on the existing awareness” of its brand in the area.
However, Mr Lock also noted that the growth of the Tweed Heads region offers opportunity.
“The Tweed Heads region is booming, with an extra 35,000 people expected to live there by 2041. Much of that growth will come from young families,” Mr Lock said.
“Heritage is a customer-owned bank committed to providing great value products and services, so we’re a perfect fit for young families in particular.
“Tweed Heads is also close to other fast-growing areas of northern News South Wales, including Pottsville and Kingscliff.”
The CEO later added that Heritage’s decision to maintain the size of its branch network also reflects the buckling of an industry trend.
“I firmly believe branches still play an extremely important role in providing customers with the personal connection they’re craving,” Mr Lock said.
“The big banks are continuing to close down branches and reduce the size of their networks.”
As Mr Lock referenced, bank branches are closing exponentially across the country.
In April, ANZ confirmed that it would be closing 15 branches across regional NSW, Victoria and Western Australia in the space of six months.
In August, the major bank confirmed it would be closing six branches – less than three months after it was reported that 145 ANZ locations had closed between 2020 and 2021, and that 23 more would close by the end of this year.
That same month, Westpac revealed it too would be closing six branches, with a spokesperson telling Mortgage Business at the time that the decision came following “a significant shift toward digital and cashless banking, and declining foot traffic in bank branches”.
An analysis published in October by the Australian Banking Association suggested that more Australians are inclined to bank digitally, with over 80 per cent of respondents stating they preferred to check account balances, pay bills, or transfer money online.
“But with a customer-owned bank like Heritage,” Mr Lock added, “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 multi-channel experience that customers demand these days.”
Speaking of the new branch, NSW member of Parliament for Tweed, Geoffrey Provost, said that Heritage’s presence is a “vote of confidence” for the area, specifically in the context of branches closing and banks pivoting to online-only services.