BENDIGO Bank has committed to a long-term future in Broadford after purchasing its current building at 63 High Street.
The bank opened its Broadford branch in the wake of National Australia Bank’s decision to withdraw from the town, leaving it with no bank branch.
The branch, along with Bendigo Bank branches in Kilmore and Wallan is operated by NorCen Financial Services – a local, publically-owned company.
NorCen director Terry Dobson said the bank had received overwhelming support in the two-and-a-half years it had been in Broadford.
“Once a country town loses its bank, they fall over big time. Everywhere you go you see that happen,” he said.
“NAB essentially left the town with no banking facilities at all when they left, and we saw it as a place we could expand to and provide the service that every country town needs.
“The local response has been fantastic.
“There was always a little desk in the newsagency where people could do little over-the-counter transactions, but that wasn’t supported by the community at all because they didn’t have confidence in that type of system.”
Mr Dobson said the branch was part of Bendigo Bank’s Community Bank program, meaning it shared its profits within the community.
“For us to become a community bank branch, we were given five years to reach a figure of $30 million of revenue from people in the community banking with us,” he said.
“In about 16 months we reached that figure and we now sit close to $40 million.”
Mr Dobson said Bendigo Bank had initially shared the building in a lease with real estate company Barry Plant, but decided to purchase the building outright.
He said refurbishment works were planned in the next 12 months.
Branch manager Leanne Paice said the purchase showed Bendigo Bank’s commitment to the Broadford community.
“Our site has been the local bank for decades and we think it is important to demonstrate that we are here for the long term; this purchase does that,” she said.
“We have plans to renovate and modernise the building in the medium term, but for now we will continue to service our customers and community in the community bank manner that has proved so popular so far.
“During the pandemic we intend to increase our support for our community by growing sponsorships and grants to local groups and organisations.
“Our next round of community support will be decided in August and announced in early September, but grants and sponsorships are available all year.
“To date we have returned over $3.1 million in direct community support and we want this to grow, particularly in the current circumstances.”