The board of Bank of Queensland, one of Queensland's largest listed companies, met in Townsville today in a move to get closer to the local community.
Townsville was chosen as the location of the Bank's first-ever regional board meeting after the State was scoured for a commercial hot-bed which could be better served.
After the meeting, Bank of Queensland managing director David Liddy and the rest of the board met with a forum of business leaders from Townsville to hear first-hand how the Bank could best meet the needs of north Queenslanders.
"We hear a lot about big organisations being out of touch with small business operators. At BOQ we're nimble enough that that's not holding us back. Proof is that we're here on your doorstep today wanting to hear how we can make things better for you and your business, and how we can provide the best possible customer service experience as an organisation," Mr Liddy said.
To demonstrate the Bank's desire to strengthen its ties in Townsville, Mr Liddy announced:
- The success of the Bank's first regional board meeting;
- A significant expansion of the Bank's business team on the ground in Townsville;
- The identification of local areas including Ayr, Innisfail, Ingham, Bowen and Airlie Beach as areas the Bank is considering for new branch openings depending on a loud and clear message coming back from those communities that a new bank would be supported, and other logistical factors.
"We want to hear from local communities up here as to whether they want their own full-service bank branch and all of the benefits that will flow from us opening on their main street.
"We need to know towns like Ayr, Innisfail, Ingham, Bowen and Airlie Beach will support us with their custom if we support them by improving their local banking and financial services.
"We can see this is a robust community that is going places and, unlike the major banks, we want to support that growth.
"At a time when other Banks are tightening the purse strings and withdrawing their support from regional communities which have sustained them for so long, BOQ is proud to be reversing the trend and expressing our confidence in your future."
After hearing from the local communities BOQ will identify suitable locations and recruit the exceptional local branch manager needed to underpin each new branch.
This can take time as the individual is the anchor for the bank in the particular community and ideally is already well established there.
Bank of Queensland has previously committed to its aim of opening 34 new branches over the next 18 months to two years, with the ultimate goal of becoming the best regional bank in Australia. Already six new branches have begun trading.
The 18 new branches now open or in the process of being opened over the coming months effectively increase the Bank's distribution network by 20 per cent, and will take total branch numbers to 111.
"At this stage the Bank would be very happy to have new branches in the identified North Queensland towns, if those communities vocalise support for the plan," Mr Liddy said.
"Support of the six branches already opened under the Bank's growth program - Kingaroy, Springfield, Coolum, Victoria Point, Carina and Wilsonton has shown communities want new branches.
"Our opening program starkly emphasises the difference between Bank of Queensland and other banks and expresses our bold new direction in community banking - serving the needs of suburban, regional and rural communities by opening new branches and putting customer service first."