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Connexus : Issue 43
have no resonance in the community at all. It's very low levels of resonance." Where does that leave a range of credit unions and building societies that, in recent years, have opted to become mutual banks? Degotardi is confdent there will be few problems, with institutions such as Heritage Bank, Defence Bank and bankmecu favouring 'bank' in their new names and not using 'mutual' or 'mutual bank'. "When you look across the industry, you can see the emergence of 'customer- owned' or 'customer' terminology much more strongly than you would have seen two or three years ago. There has been a fundamental shift." Petschler says that, in adopting a new title, the association is acknowledging change and not leading it. She understands, too, that in some institutions there will still be a strong affliation with a ‘mutual’ philosophy, including some 'mutual banks' with the term in their names. "It's not that we kill mutuals or the concept of mutuality stone dead." Petschler is under no illusions that the rebranding is a panacea as customer- owned banking institutions compete against the might of the major banks. But it should help. She is encouraged that the association board has committed $1.5 million for the remainder of this fnancial year and next year to an industry marketing campaign to promote the sector and build awareness around the 'customer- owned' philosophy. "We know that we have to invest around this for the long term -- and it's a symbolic shift that shows how serious our board is," Petschler says. Cameron Cooper is a freelance writer. www.customerownedbanking.asn.au 11