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Heritage and People’s Choice holds inaugural AGM post-merger

The mutual bank has held its first annual general meeting following the merger earlier this year.

Chairman of the mutual bank Heritage and People’s Choice, Michael Cameron, said the company has “reaped the benefits of much hard work” after the merger of Heritage Bank and People’s Choice earlier this year.

The merger between Heritage Bank and People’s Choice Credit Union was first revealed in 2021 when the two mutual banks entered into a non-binding agreement to explore a merger opportunity.

By mid-2023, the two organisations had merged to create a national member-owned banking entity, comprising 730,000 members; 1,900 employees; $23 billion in assets and 95 branches across South Australia, Victoria, NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

“In our first 120 days, we achieved net member growth of more than 11,000, loan growth of 8.6 per cent per annum and deposit growth of 7.5 per cent per annum,” Mr Cameron said.

“We have progressed our merger commitments, including the removal of some fees and charges, and the introduction of Saturday trading in selected branches.”

However, the chairman noted that while there has been progress, there was still “some way to go” towards becoming a fully integrated organisation to “maximise the merger benefits for customers”.

“To guide us, we have developed an Integration Plan to bring together our people, processes and systems over the next few years. Central to this is the optimisation of our business operations to create a simple, effective member experience,” he said.

Chief executive Peter Lock said during the meeting that despite the size of the organisation, it was “still very much member-owned and member-focused”.

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“While Heritage and People’s Choice finished the reporting period in a very positive financial position, we have also taken great strides in building a stronger organisation – one which will provide Australians with a true alternative to the big banks and their profit-driven model,” Mr Lock said.

“During the reporting period, we worked hard to deliver more for our members, to strengthen our systems, and ensure members are at the heart of all decisions.”

Heritage and People’s Choice reported total loans and advances of $19.1 billion, up 5 per cent from a combined $18.2 billion and growth in the residential lending portfolio to $18.3 billion, an increase of 5.2 per cent during the 2022/23 financial year.

In September, the mutual bank secured its first residential mortgage-backed security (RMBS) issue, priced at $1 billion.

[RELATED: Heritage and People’s Choice secures $1bn RMBS deal]

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