While plans for community banks on the Gold Coast drag on, Bank of Queensland has fast-tracked its campaign to dramatically improve banking services for the region's residents and businesses.
Two new branches opening on the Gold Coast this week are amongst seven being opened by the Bank throughout the south-east region in the weeks before Christmas.
Bank of Queensland's 105th branch - to be opened today by Mayor Gary Baildon at Harbour Town Shopping Centre - will spearhead the campaign on the Coast.
It will be joined next week by a new branch at West Burleigh, to be opened by the Minister for State Development The Hon. Tom Barton, MP, followed by a dedicated Business Banking Centre in the commercial hub of Bundall opening later this month.
Bank of Queensland is reversing the program of closures undertaken by the big banks - which saw 34 branches close on the Coast in the past five years - and restoring easily accessible face-to-face banking to these residents.
The two new branches will increase the Bank's network on the Coast to 13, representing a significant expansion of its activities in the region and a major investment in the local communities.
In opening Bank of Queensland Harbour Town, Cr Baildon hailed the Bank's expansion as a "vote of confidence in the strength of the Gold Coast economy and in the sustained growth of this region".
"The Bank's expansion is indicative of a proactive and forward-thinking organisation, one whose vigour and growth is paralleled by the Gold Coast itself," he said.
"But the benefits extended by these branches go beyond the provision of banking and financial services.
"They also create jobs for Queenslanders, rejuvenate communities, develop local economies and aid the progress of the state as a whole.
"It's great to see local businesses such as this Bank giving this kind of positive support to the communities in which they operate."
Harbour Town Branch owner-manager, David Allsopp, brings to the community 27 years' banking experience in both retail and business banking.
His years in business banking, focusing on lending, will enable him to enormously help the growing number of businesses in the area.
"I'm looking forward to being able to offer the sort of top-class banking services which have been missing from our communities for too long," Mr Alsopp said.
"In particular, I am very interested in assisting this region's growing number of small and medium businesses, which have been largely ignored by the other banks, despite their vital role as the backbone of the local economy.
"As a small business owner myself, I appreciate the needs and concerns of local businesses and realise they often need an understanding and experienced bank manager to help them meet their full commercial potential.
"My branch will be a one-stop financial services shop, offering not only retail and commercial loans approved right here in the branch, but also a full suite of insurance and wealth management services in association with our strategic partners Royal Sun Alliance and ABN-AMRO Morgans.
"Although face-to-face banking is the cornerstone of my branch, customers will also be able to access our new ATM when installed shortly as well as the Bank's phone and recently upgraded internet banking services.
"Because I own the branch, my customers can rest assured that I am here to stay, unlike the "imported" managers at other banks who seem to come and go through a revolving door."
Bank of Queensland Managing Director David Liddy said the Bank would continue to support local communities throughout Queensland by opening branches, even in areas other banks had abandoned.
"Our growth program of opening 34 new branches throughout the State by 2004 has been enormously rewarding for the many communities which now have real face-to-face banking and also for the Bank as we work hard to become Australia's best regional bank," he said.
"It is a win-win situation for communities like the Gold Coast."