Heritage Bank and People’s Choice to explore merger opportunity 

Heritage Bank and People’s Choice Credit Union, two of Australia’s largest customer-owned banking organisations, have announced that they are in discussions to explore a merger that would create one of Australia’s largest customer-owned banking organisations with approximately 700,000 members and $22 billion in total assets.

Heritage and South Australian-based People’s Choice have proud histories and legacies in their communities. Both are proudly member-owned, have deep regional roots and a successful track record in customer-owned banking.

Both organisations are fiercely committed to delivering exceptional customer service and member value.

We are absolutely committed to remaining a mutual if a merger goes ahead - being a mutual is fundamental to who we are. In fact, this merger is being driven by our commitment to mutuality and retaining a committed member focus

We will of course remain deeply committed to supporting our members and our local communities, including through our community sponsorships and corporate social responsibility programs. That includes the continuation of the Heritage Bank Charitable Foundation and the wonderful work it does to support people in need.

By joining forces, we would have the size and scale to deliver more for our members through enhanced products, services, digital capabilities and competitive pricing.

If the merger proceeds it would be a true merger of equals with equal Board representation and dual head offices retained in Toowoomba and Adelaide. 

A detailed and thorough due diligence process is now underway, and should both Boards agree to proceed, the proposed merger will be put to both groups of members for approval in the first half of 2022.

For more information, see our full announcement and FAQs below.

CEO Peter Lock announces that Heritage Bank is exploring the exciting opportunity to merge with People's Choice, a similar-sized customer-owned banking organisation based in South Australia.
Any questions?
Many of your questions are answered below, but should you have any more, please tap for live assistance, or call us on 1300 191 629.
What has been announced?

Why are we exploring a merger?

  • We’re exploring this opportunity because we believe it is a unique opportunity to merge as two equals to create an organisation that will deliver more for our members.
  • No other merger partner offers the level of cultural and strategic alignment that People’s Choice does.
  • The organisations have complementary capabilities and geographic footprints and we’re both strong values-driven organisations that are committed to mutuality, our members and employees, as well as maintaining a strong presence in our local communities.
  • The Boards of Heritage and People’s Choice believe that a merger would be in the interests of members. By joining forces, we would have the size and scale to deliver more for our members through enhanced products, services, digital capabilities and competitive pricing.
  • At this early stage we believe the complementary capability of the two entities would provide members with access to a broader, more diversified distribution network across branches and brokers as well as greater access to commercial and personal loans and payment capabilities.

What will each business bring to the combined entity?

  • The proposed merger has a strong strategic rationale given the complementary capabilities and geographic footprint of both parties and the potential for a significant increase in scale, unlocking a broader range of products and services and improved access to enhanced digital capabilities for both Heritage and People’s Choice members.
  • The expanded geographic footprint across QLD, NSW, VIC, SA, WA and NT would provide new growth opportunities for the merged entity.

Who is People’s Choice?

  • People’s Choice is South Australia’s largest independent banking organisation and one of Australia’s most successful customer-owned banking organisations, helping its 390,000 members across the country to save, borrow, protect and plan for their future.
  • Since its foundation in 1949, People’s Choice’s absolute focus on members has underpinned the organisation’s growth and constant evolution over the years.
  • Today, People’s Choice serves members across Australia through its national digital presence, branches and advice centres in South Australia, Victoria, Northern Territory and Western Australia, and broker network in Victoria and the Northern Territory.
  • People’s Choice regularly ranks among the top Australian financial institutions when it comes to meeting the needs of members, with levels of customer satisfaction, trust and advocacy that are among the leaders of the financial services sector.
  • People’s Choice prides itself on its strong community orientation. Annually it generates more than $3 million for a range of community-based ventures.
  • People’s Choice contributes seven times the national average pre-tax profit to the community through the People’s Choice Community Lottery, which has raised more $20 million for thousands of not-for-profit organisations; sponsorship of the Adelaide Strikers Big Bash League cricket team, Western Bulldogs AFL team, Norwood SANFL team and local programs around its areas of operation, and through employee fundraising and volunteering

If the merger goes ahead, will we keep our mutual status?

  • We are absolutely committed to remaining a mutual if a merger goes ahead - being a mutual is fundamental to who we are. In fact, this merger is being driven by our commitment to mutuality and retaining a committed member focus.

What will happen to our name and brand?

  • It is early days, and both parties are focused on ensuring a merger would be in members’ best interests. If a merger were to proceed, we envisage that there would be a period where both brands are maintained but that ultimately a single brand would be created that adequately reflects the deep roots and values of both Heritage and People’s Choice.

What happens next?

  • A detailed and thorough due diligence process is now underway. Should the Board agree to proceed, the proposed merger will be put to both groups of members for approval in the first half of 2022.
  • Further detail about the timing and process will be provided to members by email and traditional mail in due course.
  • We will provide regular updates via our branches, social media channels, and website.
 
What this means for members

What does the merger mean for members?

  • Our members’ interests will be the most important consideration in this process.
  • We believe that by joining forces, we would have the size and scale to deliver more for our members through enhanced products, services, digital capabilities and competitive pricing.
  • Importantly any deal would be structured as a merger of equals and the combined entity will still be customer-owned which means our focus will always be our members.

How will members benefit?

  • The Board of Heritage believes that a merger would be in the interests of members.
  • At this early stage we believe the complementary capability of the two entities would provide members with access to a broader, more diversified distribution network across branches and brokers as well as greater access to commercial and personal loans and payment capabilities.
  • Members would also benefit from an expanded national network of over 90 branches proudly serviced by approximately 1,700 people.
  • A detailed and thorough due diligence process is now underway and should we decide to proceed members will receive detailed information on the anticipated benefits.
  • Ultimately it will be up to members to decide whether we proceed with a merger or not.

What will happen to my membership when the merger completes?

  • Current members of Heritage and People’s Choice will become members of the combined entity with both groups of members having the same rights.

What does it mean for current product features and services?

  • There will be no immediate change to current product features and services to members.
  • Should the due diligence process indicate the merger to be in the best interest of members, we expect the best features of the respective brands’ products and services will become available to the broader member base.

Do members get to vote on the merger?

  • Should the due diligence process indicate the merger to be in the best interest of members and we decide to proceed, both Heritage and People’s Choice members will have the opportunity to vote on the proposed merger which would be expected to occur in the first half of 2022.

What do members of both Heritage and People’s Choice need to do now?

  • Members do not need to do anything at this stage.Any decision made to proceed with a merger would only be made if it is deemed in the best interests of our members.In the meantime, we remain focused on business as usual and continuing to support our members.
  • Should the merger proceed to a member vote, further information will be provided to members including details of the timing and process.
 
Our community

Will the merger result in branch closures?

  • Both Heritage and People’s Choice operate in different geographies so there is no overlap of branch operations. Therefore, there are no branch closures as a result of the merger.

What does this mean for the community sponsorships we have in place?

  • All sponsorships will continue and there will be additional capacity to support new ones, too.
  • We will of course remain deeply committed to supporting our members and our local communities, including through our community sponsorships and corporate social responsibility programs.

Will there be any job losses or redundancies?

  • Our people are our strength. We want to retain the people working for us because of their skills, dedication and commitment to our members.
  • Both parties have committed to no non-executive redundancies as a result of the merger.
  • We would be likely to need more jobs, not less, as we worked to integrate the two organisations.

Would the Heritage Bank Charitable Foundation continue?

  • Yes. The Heritage Bank Charitable Foundation would continue to operate and build on the fantastic contribution it makes to helping those in need throughout our community.
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