Small investors can now gain access to the Australian share market through Bendigo Bank branches.
This follows the launch today of the Sandhurst Australian Industrial Share Fund.
Launching the fund was Andrew Long, chief executive of Sandhurst Trustees, which developed the retail share fund in partnership with noted financial services group Investors Mutual.
"This is a new initiative for the Bendigo Bank Group of companies,"Mr Long said.
"For the first time, customers will be able to participate in the growth of the Australian share market through branches of Sandhurst Trustees and Bendigo Bank, rather than have all the hassles of investing directly in shares themselves."
Mr Long said investors would be able to gain exposure to a range of quality industrial shares for an initial investment of just $5000.
"The beauty of this fund is that it is easy to understand. Many customers have been telling us they want to get into the share market but find it daunting to select the shares to buy and to find enough money to spread their investment across a range of companies.
"This fund gives them an affordable, easy and understandable way to do that.
"Customers will be dealing with locally-based firms they know and trust, with the investments being made by Investors Mutual, whose managing director Anton Tagliaferro is one of Australia's most respected equity managers."
Mr Tagliaferro 10 years ago launched the Perpetual Industrial Share Fund which now boasts assets of almost $1.6 billion.
He said Investors Mutual and the Bendigo Bank Group aimed to raise $30 million to $40 million by Christmas through the Sandhurst Australian Industrial Share Fund.
Mr Long said investments needed to be made through a prospectus available from Bendigo Bank branches and Sandhurst Trustees offices from next week.
"The minimum investment is $5000. Income distributions will be paid twice a year and investors can add $500 or more to their investment at any time.
"It will also be possible for customers to apply for a loan through Bendigo Bank using part of their share portfolio as security."
Mr Long said Sandhurst Trustees would administer the fund, with investments being selected by Investors Mutual.
"They will look for companies which the market has undervalued and which pay solid dividends and offer good growth prospects.
"That's one of the main benefits for investors - they won't have to worry about buying and selling shares.
"All the investment decisions will be made by experts on their behalf and all the administration work will be done here in Bendigo by Sandhurst Trustees staff."
Mr Long said Sandhurst Trustees currently managed funds in excess of $650 million. "We are confident this new share-based fund will assist in continuing the strong growth Sandhurst and the Bendigo Group has experienced in recent years."