Local Woman Buys the Bank

Friday, 23/01/2009

Innaloo now has its first bank owned and operated by locals, with the Bank of Queensland branch in Innaloo Shopping Centre being purchased by local banker Mairead Hodgson.

Mairead has nearly 25 years of banking experience, having joined BankWest when she left high school.

“I worked for BankWest for nearly 25 years, in everything from credit to branches to business banking, but have always been interested in being self-employed, so when I heard about the BOQ Model I knew I had to find out more,” said Mairead.

“My entire family are self-employed, so when my brother got talking to Tania Watton, one of the Bank’s most successful Owner-Managers, who owns the Subiaco branch, he thought of me immediately.

“He was straight on the phone to tell me he’d found the only way I could be self-employed while still working in banking!”

Mairead said she was really attracted to the opportunity to maintain client relationships and be there for them over the years.

“Over the years I’ve developed some great relationships with some of my clients, but of course in banking you always get moved on after a while.

“Another aspect of the BOQ Model that attracted me was that I could develop relationships with people in my local area, and then continue to build and grow those relationships over the years.

“I like the idea of the old-style community banking, where I’ll know my customers by name and be able to drop around to see them to have a chat about their finances.

“I think that BOQ Innaloo can offer our local community exactly what it needs – a local Bank Manager who really cares about their needs and can structure their finances in a way that suits them.

“And because I own the branch, I can use my knowledge about local conditions to drive my decisions, and will be available 24/7 for my customers. They’ll have my direct line and can call me at whatever time suits them, to discuss their banking.

“But of course I am completely backed by Bank of Queensland, a 135-year-old bank that is also Australia’s fastest-growing retail bank with a network of more than 285 branches, and one of the country’s top 100 listed companies.

“So having your money with me is just as safe as having it with any other BOQ branch, but you have the added benefit of having a manager who knows that my livelihood depends on how happy my customers are, so you can imagine I’ll bend over backwards to make sure you get the very best service!”

The conversion not only provides the Innaloo and surrounding community with a significant asset, but underlines the ongoing synergies and successful integration of the BOQ and Home Building Society networks. 

Innaloo is the 24th corporate branch BOQ has converted to an Owner-Managed Branch (OMB) with plans to continue franchising branches where there is a demonstrated benefit to customers and a top quality Owner-Manager ready to step up to the crease.

In fact, another two BOQ branches in Geraldton and Belmont (formerly Home branches) have been purchased by WA bankers and are being converted to Owner-Managed Branches today!

Of the Bank’s 286-branch retail network, 203 are OMBs.

“The new Owner-Manager at Geraldton, Jenny Addison, is actually an old friend of mine from BankWest.

“It’s great knowing that not only do I have the entire team at BOQ to call on, as well as the other Owner-Managers here in WA, I can also give Jenny a call and we can swap tips and ideas for how to grow our business.

“This is a truly revolutionary way of banking – there is no other full-service bank in town where you can walk in and be served by the owner,” Mairead said. 

“It really takes banking back to the grass roots, allowing us to offer a level of service the others just can’t match.  Local people will appreciate the personal, face-to-face service and the hands-on, intimate approach to looking after their banking and finance needs.”

“My husband and I have lived in the local area for 15 years – well, he’s from the area so he’s been here all his life.  We just love the place and I am thrilled that I have been able to take advantage of this great business and career opportunity in my local area.”

BOQ’s Managing Director David Liddy said the Owner-Managed Branch model really allowed quality bankers to shine by managing their own business rather than be stifled by a “cookie-cutter” corporate branch arrangement.

“The dramatic and immediate improvements in branch performance and customer satisfaction after they are franchised proves bank managers who have a direct financial interest in their branch, who are experts in their local market and who personally know their customers are much more effective than the old-fashioned corporate manager who often has none of these things,” David said.

Owner-Managed Branches are a franchise arrangement which enables experienced bankers to own and manage their own full-service Bank of Queensland branch in their local community, supported by the security and products of a 135-year-old financial institution.