A SMALL bank owned by the Sunshine Coast community is posting big profits for its shareholders this year, proving that sometimes big is not better.
Sunshine Coast Community Financial Services Ltd (SCCFSL) posted cheques totalling $119,296 in dividends to its 800 shareholders after its recent AGM.
"The directors of SCCFSL decided the dividend is just reward to all the shareholders who initially funded the establishment of the branches,” chairman Rick Cooper said.
"They've enthusiastically watched their development and business revenue has grown every year since our inception.”
It's the eighth year in a row that dividends have been made for shareholders since the bank started 14 years ago. Even through the Global Financial Crisis, dividends were made, Mr Cooper said.
The community bank is part of the Bendigo Bank network, which is the fastest-growing network in the country in terms of new branches, he said.
"There's something big going on here, called community banking,” he said. "It's amazing.
"It's the most wonderful model that I've ever come across. Everyone benefits from it. The shareholders benefit, the community benefits.”
A total of $2.46 million has been invested in the community since the community bank started. This includes sponsorships of school and community projects as well as dividends to shareholders.
Mr Cooper said when the "big four” banks (Commonwealth, Westpac, ANZ and NAB) closed many regional branches about 15 years ago, a new community banking model began because there were "towns that were left with no bank”.
"Because the bank is owned by the community, the community is the one that drives whether the bank will be started or not,” he said.
He said it was great news for the Coast.
"Very few publicly listed companies are owned by the Sunshine Coast community,” he said. "Really the only ones are these local banks.”
The bank was in the midst of its biggest growth yet, he said.
"It's happening because there are many disgruntled big four customers who are despairing of lack of service and when they walk into one of our banks, it's like a breath of fresh air for them,” he said. "That's one reason.
"Another is we're open 9-5 which is very convenient to customers.”
The bank, which has branches at Cooroy, Marcoola, Tewantin and Pomona, now has 13,000 members after opening in 2002.
It also holds deposits and loans to the value of $340 million.
"We had no customers at all - now we have 13,000,” he said. "You tell me any business that can beat that and I'll be very interested.”
He said the bank consistently paid "very high dividends” but members also trusted it because "it's owned by the community”.
"The bank and the community are really one and the same thing. Profits go back to the community.
With 300 community banks, each with their volunteer boards of management, we're creating a "wonderful model” for banking, Mr Cooper said.
"It's a pretty successful story really and we're lucky to be part of it.”
The total funds given back to the Coolum and North Shore and greater Noosa communities has now exceeded $2.1 million. Recipients include:
- Coolum Civic Centre refurbishment
- Marcoola Rocks Australia Day celebrations
- North Shore Community Centre
- Peregian Beach Community House
- Street and artscape projects in the Marcoola town centre
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.