80 million reasons for Australian communities to celebrate
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Community Bank® network has now returned more than $80 million in banking profits back to the communities these unique companies operate within.
The milestone was almost unimaginable when the Community Bank® model was first launched in 1998, in partnership with the people from the small Victorian wheat farming towns of Rupanyup and Minyip.
Managing Director Mike Hirst said for these communities the Community Bank® model was seen as a way to restore branch banking services to the towns, after the last of the major banks closed down their services.
“Between 1993 and 2000, more than 2050 bank branches closed across Australia representing a 29 per cent reduction in branch numbers,” he said.
“Bendigo Bank recognised the impact of these cuts on communities and decided to create a new franchise banking model which saw the Bank partner with communities and share the revenue generated by the branch.
“This allowed Australian communities to retain revenue generated by their banking business in their local community for the first time and enabled them to reinvest the money into community groups and projects,” Mr Hirst said.
From 2001 to 2011, Community Bank® branches have represented a quarter of all new Australian bank branches (205 of 799) and in 2009/10 Community Bank® branch openings made up more than half of the new bank branches opened that year (22 of the 40 branches)1.
“Demand from communities remains strong and in the past financial year 20 new Community Bank® branches have opened and there are currently another 32 Community Bank® sites in development, with many more conversations happening with communities Australia wide,” he said.
“But the Community Bank® model is about far more than enhancing a community’s access to banking services, it’s now about securing an alternative source of income so that a community can fund activities or initiatives which make their town or suburb a better place to live.”
In the past 14 years the Community Bank® network’s returns to communities has grown exponentially each year, with $470,000 returned in the first five years, $8.15 million in the first eight and $22.58 million by the end of the first decade of operation.
Today, just four years later, that figure is an astonishing $80 million and with the continued growth and popularity of the Community Bank® model returns should top $100 million by the end of 2013.
Mr Hirst said in a growing number of instances, community funds were being augmented by governments.
“Communities that can demonstrate commitment and buy-in to projects are great partners for government and these dollars add up to new community facilities, improved services, more opportunities for community engagement activities and generally speaking, a more prosperous society.
“Those who support a Community Bank® branch know they are part of something special, a unique banking movement which has evolved into a whole new way of thinking about banking and the role it plays in modern society,” he said.
Community Bank® overview: Communities form local publicly owned companies which enter into a franchise agreement with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. The Bank provides the banking infrastructure and licensing, while the community (through a volunteer board of directors) runs the branch operation and generates customer support.
Together the Bank and local community share the revenue, with surpluses available for investment in the community via grants, sponsorships and dividends to local shareholders. For more information visit www.communitybank.com.au or watch the Community Bank® story on YouTube.
1 Australian Bankers’ Association, Banking Service Channels, 30 June 2011.
Community Bank® statistics
- $80 million returned to community groups and projects
- 295 Community Bank® branches
- Almost 1500 Community Bank® branch staff
- More than 1800 Community Bank® company directors
- About 550,000 Community Bank® branch customers
- Over 70,000 Community Bank® company shareholders
- More than $20 million in shareholder dividends paid
Community Bank® case study
The Hurstbridge community farewelled their last major bank in 1997 and had never managed to attract a bank back to their town, but desperately wanted a branch for the convenience of the community and local businesses. They decided to take control of their financial destiny, forming Valley Community Financial Services Limited, with the company opening its first Community Bank® Branch in Hurstbridge in April 2001.
Three years later it opened the Diamond Creek Community Bank® Branch, followed by the Kinglake Sub Branch which opened in 2009 to assist that community as they recovered from the Black Saturday Bushfires, the Eltham & District Community Bank® Branch in 2010 and Doreen & Mernda Community Bank® branch in 2011.
With five branches in operation the Community Bank® company is providing a valued branch banking service, but more importantly is able to generate revenue through its banking business which it reinvests in local community groups and projects.
The Community Bank® company has rewarded its shareholders with more than $885,000 in dividends and has returned almost $3.5 million to the community, with money invested in a range of initiatives including:
- $1 million towards the $10.5 million Community Bank Stadium in Diamond Creek (the Community Bank® company’s support helped secure the remaining funding needed from local, state and federal government)
- $150,000 donation to Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s Black Saturday Bushfire Appeal
- $130,000 towards the $380,000 upgrades to the Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House
- $300,000 towards the Kinglake Memorial Reserve Multi-purpose Clubrooms project
- $25,000 towards the $130,000 reconstruction of the Diamond Creek Tennis Club (this commitment also helped attract the remaining funding required to complete the project)
- $35,000 for the Diamond Creek Fire Brigade’s purchase of an electronic sign and water pump
- $20,000 for which attracted $110,000 from local government to install training lights Plenty Park so the local women’s Australian Rules football club, junior soccer club and cricket club could train at night.