The ACT Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, has welcomed Bank of Queensland south of the border to the nation's capital, saying the local community could only benefit from greater competition in the banking industry.
Mr Stanhope was speaking at the opening of Bank of Queensland's very first ACT branch, at City Walk in the heart of the Capital's financial district.
"The City Walk, Canberra City branch is Bank of Queensland's 14th branch outside its home state of the 100 it plans to open in New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT by August 2006," Mr Stanhope said.
"It is encouraging to see that the Bank of Queensland's commitment to an ACT presence has come to fruition early in this planning process.
"The Government has set the goal of making the ACT the most small business friendly location in Australia. Business confidence in the ACT is reaching historical highs, and compares very well against other states and territories."
Bank of Queensland will open a branch at Belconnen early next year and is currently investigating other locations to give it a significant branch presence in the Capital and support its debtor and equipment finance operations and comprehensive network of ATMS in the city.
Branch Owner-Manager Ross Liddle said he had already noticed a groundswell of local interest in the branch and had signed up many new customers looking for an alternative to the big banks.
"We get a lot of interest from passers by as to why a Queensland bank is opening south of the border, but when we explain the Owner-Managed Branch and person2person™ service concepts, their reaction is very positive," Mr Liddle said.
"Many people are not only surprised to find a branch manager to talk to here in the branch, but also to find out that I own the branch and can make genuine local decisions.
"As a bank manager, the main advantage is that I can spend as much time with customers as I need to. This is something that is virtually unheard of in today's banking industry and is excellent for my personal and business customers as well as very satisfying for me.
"I believe genuine service in banking is becoming hard to find and as owner of my branch, I aim to make excellent face-to-face service once again a standard feature.
"This is a return to the times when the bank manager knew his customers personally and they worked together to achieve results."
Mr Liddle, a resident of Canberra, brings to his branch more than two decades' management experience in banking and finance, including 12 years at executive level.