Bank of Queensland will play a pivotal role in the future of Paddington, when it opens its latest branch at the dramatically upgraded Paddington Central Shopping Centre today.
As the only full-service bank in the new-look complex, it will act as a financial anchor, making life more convenient for shoppers, local businesses and other retailers.
Having Bank of Queensland open its doors is something of a reversal of fortune for Paddington, which has suffered the closure of two branches in the past five years on top of 32 other branch closures within a three-kilometre radius.
The nearby suburbs of Red Hill, Rosalie, Bardon and Milton will also benefit from the new bank, which focuses on providing friendly, face-to-face service and making a trip to the bank an enjoyable experience.
Ironically, Bank of Queensland Paddington will be located in the same building vacated by Westpac over 5 years ago.
Paddington is the Bank's 50th owner-managed branch, based on a pioneering model which allows top bankers to own the branch they manage. The model has been the catalyst for the Bank's aggressive expansion of its branch network by 34 new branches while other banks continue to close.
The branch was officially opened by Brisbane City Councillor David Hinchliffe, who congratulated the Bank on its foresight and confidence in supporting inner Brisbane suburbs.
"The Bank of Queensland is certainly reversing an unwelcome trend of recent years where banks have fled suburban locations for more centralised operations in large regional shopping malls," Cr Hinchliffe said.
"If essential services such as banks desert the area, they rip the heart out of the community.
"This is a vote of confidence in Paddington and local shopping centres. Paddington has all the characteristics of an urban village. Shopping at Paddington is a cultural and community experience.
"Clever businesses are starting to understand that the public are becoming more discerning and want more.
Local village shopping centres are providing a connection to local place, and that is becoming more important.
"Bank of Queensland is part of that clever move back to 'local'."
The branch will incorporate a specialist business banking centre on its second floor, enabling it to fully service both personal and business banking clients from the same convenient location.
Branch owner-manager Tony Rimon, with 15 years' experience in the banking industry, said he was looking forward to becoming an integral part of the local community.
"I hope my branch will be able to fully participate in the extraordinary development and transformation happening here and become a valued part of the Paddington community.
"I believe banks are a key part of any thriving community, providing support and convenience for both businesses and residents alike."
Mr Rimon said he fully supported Bank of Queensland's policy of putting bank managers back in touch with their customers.
"My experience with the major banks is that, if they even have a real manager at a branch, they often seem to know nothing about the people they serve," he said.
"The basic philosophy of 'knowing the customer' is absolutely essential and something which has been missing from the banking industry for far too long.
"As I own the branch, I'll be based here permanently, and will go the extra mile to help my customers."
Paddington is the last of nine new Bank of Queensland branches opened in the final nine weeks of 2002 and the 15th in the Bank's program to open 34 new branches around Queensland by 2004.