An overwhelming majority of members from Holiday Coast Credit Union and Regional Australia Bank have voted in favour of the proposed merger of the two financial institutions overnight.
A vote of Holiday Coast Credit Union (HCCU) members was held in Wauchope on Wednesday, May 29 followed by a vote of members from Regional Australia Bank on May 30 with over 90 percent of members agreeing to the merger.
The merger which will be effective as of July 1, 2019, will be one of the largest mergers in the customer owned banking sector in recent times.
Current CEO of HCCU, Neville Parsons, said despite Holiday Coast losing its iconic name, day to day not much will change for members.
"The local staff will stay the same, the local branches will stay the same and from a members point of view not a lot will change with the merger," Mr Parsons said.
"We have been planning for this vote for the last six months and all our staff have been preparing so to know it is actually happening will bring stability."
Holiday Coast Credit Union has 25,000 members and 98 staff and it has branches at Wauchope, Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, Taree, Gloucester, Laurieton, Tea Gardens, Wingham, Greenhills, Port Macquarie and Tuncurry.
Regional Australia Bank is customer-owned, and has 60,000 members and 200 staff.
Its roots are in regional NSW and its head office is in Armidale with branches in Armidale, Uralla, Guyra, Walcha, Glen Innes, Manilla, Tamworth, Inverell, Barraba and Bingara.
When the entities combine they will be worth $2.2 billion in assets and service about 85,000 members across northern NSW.
At the HCCU meeting 91.73 percent of members voted in favour of the merger and Mr Parsons said he was optimistic about the future for Holiday Coast's members.
"Our status quo was no longer an option and this merger will be a good thing for us," he said.
"If it did not go ahead we would have likely had to look at increasing fees or consolidating services but the merger brings about more opportunities for our members."
Chairman of Regional Australia Bank, Graham Olrich said it was a great milestone for both institutions.
"While the sector proudly continues to grow, particularly as people turn away from the Big Four banks, it is smaller institutions that find it difficult to sustain that growth and keep pace with digital transformation and increasing regulatory complexity," Mr Olrich said.
"While both HCCU and Regional Australia Bank have been performing well in their respective adjoining markets, we see this merger delivering tangible and immediate financial and non- financial benefits to members of both organisations.
"Additionally, it will also help preserve a strong and sustainable mutual financial institution in regional Australia.
"We are excited by the prospect of value that this merger will deliver for our members."
For members, Mr Olrich said, the merger is expected to bring greater competitive products and services, fairer fees and charges as well as greater investment in technology and service systems for the long-term will be some of the key benefits.
"This is what the partnership is all about, creating sustainable value for members and offering genuine support to the communities where they live and work," he said.
Graham Olrich will continue as chairman of the combined entity with Kevin Dupé retaining his position as Regional Australia Bank CEO.
Retiring Holiday Coast CEO Neville Parsons will join directors Allan Gordon (Chairman) and David Johnson as members of the Regional Australia Bank Board.
The transfer of business will take place from July 1, 2019 subject to regulatory approval by the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority, with systems migration to follow in September.