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People First Bank is the new name for Australia’s largest customer-owned bank, unifying the Queensland-based Heritage Bank and Adelaide-based People’s Choice Credit Union brands following their merger last year.
Since the merger, the group has been focused on creating a new single brand, rather than adopting a multibrand approach, in order to “create a strong new national brand that genuinely challenges the profit maximisation model of the listed banks”.
While the name has now been unveiled, it is expected that the new name and marketing elements will mainly start to be seen from March 2024.
Unveiling the new brand, People First Bank chairman Michael Cameron said the rebrand offered “a compelling proposition” as a national purpose-driven, customer-focused banking organisation.
“People First Bank says exactly what we are focused on – people,” Mr Cameron said.
“Our new brand builds on the strengths and values of both organisations over our near[ly] 150-year history while standing out in today’s highly competitive banking environment.”
People First Bank chief executive Peter Lock said the group had gone through “extensive consultation” with customers and employees following the merger, noting that its members “wanted the organisation to continue to put people first”.
“We are owned by our customers. There is no doubt about our priorities. We exist to serve the interests of our customers,” Mr Lock said.
“Unlike the listed-bank model, we don’t have the conflict of having to generate massive profits to pay dividends to shareholders. Our profits remain in the business to provide ongoing value to customers and their communities.
“While our name and brand will change, our commitment to our customers, employees, local communities and being proudly customer-owned remains the same.”
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.
The two organisations officially merged on 1 March 2023 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.
The two lenders had around $19.1 billion of total loans, with approximately $18.3 billion being residential mortgages, at the end of the 2023 financial year.
Mr Lock (former CEO of Heritage Bank) is now the merged organisation’s CEO and Steve Laidlaw, formerly the CEO of People’s Choice, is now deputy CEO.
However, Mr Lock will retire 18 months after the establishment of the merged organisation, when Mr Laidlaw will be appointed as CEO.
Mr Lock concluded: “This is another historic milestone in a landmark year for our organisation. We will provide further updates as the new brand comes to life.”