Name change unveils customer-owned bank

by Miklos Bolza01 Dec 2017
Tasmanian building society B&E has hit a milestone in its 147-year history, rebranding as the Bank of us – the state’s only customer-owned bank.

The change was announced earlier last month by chief executive Paul Ranson and chairman Stephen Brown at a stakeholder and media event in Hobart, Launceston and Ulverstone.

While the bank’s name and logo have changed, not everything would stay the same, Ranson said.

“We’ve been working on some new and exciting products – products that are not tricky or complicated, that are great value, with competitive rates and that are designed by Tasmanians for Tasmanians.”

The simplification of Bank of us’ lending products was to make them more ‘un-bank-like,’ chief sales and marketing officer, Jill Jetson-Shumbusho, told Australian Broker.

This includes the launch of a no frills mortgage product with an interest rate of 3.79% p.a. for below 80% LVR lending.

“The comparison rate is exactly the same, so at this point in time we have no fees on that offering. That’s a very powerful offering to let the market know that we are serious about trying to offer value for money.”

Bank of us has also revisited its fixed rate lending, making it so that customers roll over to the current carded rate when the fixed rate period is up instead of moving to a standard variable rate.

“What that does is make the comparison rates for our fixed lending very powerful.”

The lender has also revamped its personal loan and credit card products, offering new rates for both. A new campaign for each will be run in the new year. It also deals in secured lending within the property development sector with an aim to move into small business loans of up to $50,000.

Brokers have also not been left behind with the bank revising its contractual arrangements and commission structures as well as introducing new broker tools, Jetson-Shumbusho said.

“We’ve aligned ourselves to market so what we’ve done is updated the contracts so it’s more commercially aligned,” she said.

The lender currently offers 0.715% upfront and 0.22% trail (including GST) for consumer lending and 0.55% upfront and 0.22% trail for business lending with certain additional terms and conditions applying. Clawbacks for consumer lending sit at 100% for the first 12 months and 50% for 12 to 24 months.

Bank of us does not currently work through an aggregator model with its 10 locally-based brokers bringing in loans direct.

“Our current direct channel of branches and contact centre is the current distribution model that we are using to manage our broker relationships. We do see there’s an opportunity for us to review and improve on how we service our broker channel.”

The bank now has over $700m in assets, 30,000 customers and a branch network throughout Tasmania. In 2016-17, it approved $169m worth of loans and grew its loan book by $47.6m to $630.4m.

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