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Mutual bank boosts focus on broker channel

by Reporter4 minute read
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Australian Unity has established a national third-party sales team and adopted technology to better service the broker market.

The customer-owned financial services provider announced that its subsidiary, Big Sky Building Society, which has 25,000 customers, operates under the Australian Unity name, as of 24 October.

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The move is intended to “provide customers with a more consistent banking experience”, the parent company said.

In addition to rebranding its subsidiary to Australian Unity Bank, the 178-year-old mutual organisation announced that it had established a dedicated national third-party sales team, adopted NextGen.Net’s ApplyOnline platform to better service the broker market, and expanded its product portfolio to capture a broader customer base.

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The firm has a range of healthcare, insurance, lending, investment and retirement products, which the CEO of Australian Unity Bank, Timothy Barber, said can be bundled for discounts.

Speaking of the timing of the relaunch, Mr Barber said: “The relaunch comes at a time when customers are seeking a genuine and trusted banking alternative.

“We believe we are well positioned to deliver on our sole purpose at Australian Unity — putting the customer front and centre while delivering great value products and services.”

Recently, it was suggested that competition in the Australian lending sector is set to heat up if the Treasury Laws Amendment (Mutual Entities) Bill 2018 gets the green light in parliament, according to the chief executive of the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA), Mike Lawrence, as it would allow the customer-owned banking sector to raise capital more easily and grow.

“This legislative overhaul is a fundamental endorsement of the customer-owned model and it will help boost competition in the banking sector and provide greater choice for consumers,” Mr Lawrence said. 

The draft bill, which was recently released for public consultation, proposes to introduce a definition for a mutual entity as a company where each member has no more than one vote, to establish an enhanced disclosure regime for members to make more informed decisions, and to improve access to capital without the risk of demutualisation.

“These historic legislative reforms will provide greater access to regulatory capital and help ensure our members can grow more quickly and undertake important investments while remaining well capitalised,” the COBA chief executive said.

“With an enhanced capacity to write more loans and provide better-quality services to current and prospective members, our sector will be able to apply more competitive pressure in the banking market.”

[Related: Mutual lender adopts digital platform for brokers]

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