Bendigo invests in online financial portal
Bendigo Bank will in January become the first Australian bank to provide an online financial portal providing customers with access to a wide range of third party financial products.
This follows the bank's acquisition of a 30 per cent stake in financial portal operator Inch Corp.
Announcing the agreement today, Bendigo Bank Managing Director Rob Hunt and Inch Corp Managing Director John O'Shea said the initiative was expected to produce strong growth for both companies.
"It provides Bendigo with a quantum leap in the functionality and product offering of its online business, while providing Inch with access to Bendigo's 600,000-strong customer base," the two men said.
"This agreement is a cost-effective way of leveraging the strengths of both groups to broaden customer services and grow our income streams while maintaining our strong customer focus."
Mr O'Shea said that in recognition of the strength of the Bendigo franchise, the current Inch site, www.inch.com.au, would be rebranded as Bendigo Bank.
"The business will continue to be staffed and managed by Inch and the site will continue to offer customers a one-stop shop offering online access to a broad range of financial services, all supported by a team of advisers and consultants.
"Our services are applicable across the entire spectrum of life events: from the first job and car, marriage and mortgage, to thinking about superannuation and retirement later in life.
"Our group and its partners have extensive experience in financial planning, superannuation, general insurance, risk insurance, tax advice & online will preparation services, health insurance, payroll and loans."
Mr Hunt said Bendigo Bank's user-friendly internet banking site, www.bendigobank.com.au, was already popular with customers, with e-bank usage rising by 221 per cent last year and still accelerating.
"A growing number of customers are choosing online banking and through the portal development we will vastly expand the services we can offer to them.
"Customers will be able to choose from a wide range of leading funds managers, health funds, insurers and other providers.
"In many instances, Bendigo Group products will be included and customers will therefore be able to broaden their relationship with a company they already know and trust.
"However there are some products our Group does not offer, which we believe are essential financial services, and this is a cost-effective way in which to provide our customers with access to those products while maintaining their primary relationship with Bendigo."
Mr Hunt and Mr O'Shea said the portal was on-track for a late January launch.
Bendigo Bank is Australia's only regionally-based bank. It operates 192 branches and Community Bank branches across Australia. Formed in 1858 as Bendigo Building Society, the bank is one of Australia's oldest financial institutions. It has assets in excess of $7 billion and employs more than 1600 staff.
Inch Corp launched its portal in June 2000 and provide access by arrangement with some of Australia's leading financial services providers, Macquarie Advisor Broking Services, , H&R Block, National Mortgage Brokers, RediPlan, , Law Partners, Australia Post, ewise and Moneybags.