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Beyond Bank and First Choice Credit Union announce intention to merge

Two customer-owned lenders have announced that they intend to merge, with member votes expected later this year.

Beyond Bank and First Choice Credit Union (FCCU) have signed a memorandum of understanding to merge.

FCCU is a customer-owner credit union based in Orange, NSW with around $100 million of assets under management.

Founded in 1970 by staff from local shire councils in the Central West of NSW, it now has around 4,000 members and agencies in Canowindra, Cudal Manildra, and Molong.

Meanwhile, Beyond Bank has more than 290,000 customers and over $8 billion of funds under management, with a large and robust presence across the Riverina region of NSW and throughout Australia.

It is proposed that the credit union will integrate into Beyond Bank’s regional and metropolitan network, creating access to the bank’s full suite of banking products and services and extending Beyond Bank’s community program to the local region.

If approved, all existing staff at FCCU will be offered roles in the merged organisation.

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A vote by FCCU members is expected towards the end of the calendar year.

Robert Keogh, chief executive of Beyond Bank, commented: “We are very pleased to be enjoying highly constructive talks with FCCU as we are aligned in many ways through our vision, values and commitment to working for and with local communities.

“We look forward to providing updates as discussions progress.”

Paul Dawson, FCCU’s general manager, added: “We are very excited to become part of Beyond Bank’s network. They have a strong track record of supporting local communities where they are represented.”

The proposed merger marked the latest in a string of mergers in the mutual banking sector, which has been consolidating rapidly to keep up with digitisation and competition.

Greater Bank and Newcastle Permanent merged earlier this year, as did Heritage Bank and People’s Choice.

In December 2020, the mutuals sector was warned by APRA that it may need to prepare for mergers, should banks face severe financial stress. Since that time, several mutual lenders have consolidated or merged forces to stay competitive and share cost efficiencies.

[Related: 4 Australian mutuals become 2]

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