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Community banking on a six-figure profit

6 February 2000 |Media centre

Upwey residents are on track to record a six-figure profit this year from their Community Bank branch of Bendigo Bank.

Upwey Community Bank chairman Peter Marke said the community had recorded operating surpluses of $10,000 for each of the past three months.

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out this equates to a yearly profit of around $120,000,"Mr Marke said.

"Not bad for a community which lost its banking and decided to do something about it."

Mr Marke said the branch had established profitable operations within a year of its November 1998 opening.

"To date we have opened almost 3250 accounts and written more than $30 million in business - and there is no sign of new business slowing.

"We have received a level of support far exceeding our expectations.

"We are still opening around 25 to 40 new accounts each week, which includes customers from areas well outside what we envisaged would be our business catchment."

More than 150 local residents contributed $300,000 in startup capital to open the branch and Mr Marke said they could look forward to receiving dividends.

"At the rate our profitability is growing, I would say the business will be in a position in the next 12 months where directors can consider the payment of dividends to local shareholders.

"We also aim to build up a community chest which can be used to fund worthwhile projects as determined by the community."

Mr Marke described the success of Community Bank as "an absolute godsend for this community".

"For starters, we now have a local bank which we control, rather than a branch which can be ripped out from under us. In the process, we have created six local jobs and have installed our own ATM.

"Fifteen months ago, we had to travel to bank and people took their shopping away from local stores. That has now turned around.

"The profit is the cream on the cake. These profits are sustainable, they will grow and they will be retained locally.

"And the best part about it is that we have achieved all this simply by channelling through our own locally-owned branch banking we would have been doing with someone else anyway.

"The profits are much better being ploughed back into the development of our community."

Mr Marke said Upwey Community Bank was now looking to expand its services to other communities in the Dandenongs.

"There have been people in these neighbouring communities who have gone out of their way to support our branch and we are looking at returning that support by growing our services.

"We have barely scratched the surface of what is possible."

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