Auswide Bank managing director Martin Barrett believes the surge in Bundaberg Region housing market activity will not end any time soon.
Speaking after the release of Auswide Bank’s interim financial report for the half year to December 31, 2020, Martin said increased housing market activity had sparked strong economic growth for the Bundaberg Region.
“I’m pretty bullish about how things are going in Bundaberg,” Martin said.
“I’ve lived in Bundaberg for eight years and it’s only recently that I’ve seen such a significant improvement in the economic activity in the area.”
Martin said an increase in housing construction, land divisions, and new housing enquiries received by the bank illustrated the confidence investors had in the Bundaberg market.
“Parts of regional Queensland are benefitting in the current climate with people seeking lifestyle changes moving from the cities to regional areas such as Bundaberg and Bargara, and areas along the beautiful coastal strip of our region,” Martin said.
He said the housing market activity was further boosted by the Federal Government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme which was helping young people enter the housing market by removing the need for a 20 per cent deposit on home loans and eliminating mortgage insurance.
A significant improvement in lending, driven by home loan activity, was one of the areas underpinning a strong performance by Auswide Bank over the first half of the financial year.
“Our loan growth over the first half year was 13 per cent, with the banking industry as a whole recording a 1.8 per cent growth,” Martin said.
“Ours was the most significant growth of any bank on the Australian market.
“We had a considerable number of people switching their banking to Auswide, not only from regional Queensland, but also south east Queensland, Sydney and Melbourne through the broker capability that we’ve built.”
Martin said growth was also strong in Bundaberg, Mackay, and Rockhampton, with deposits increasing more than 10 per cent, while deposits in other regions rose more than 30 per cent.
“This has given us great funding,” he said.
“Net profit increased nearly 24 per cent over the half year compared to the same period in the previous year.
“I couldn’t be more delighted. What was encouraging for us was the improved dividend we gained for our shareholders.
“Most of our shareholders are in and around the Wide Bay area and we were able to provide them with a dividend that was two cents per share more than they received last year.
“We were the only bank on the ASX to materially increase the dividend it offered to shareholders.”
Martin said Auswide had outperformed the big banks by being nimble enough to respond quickly to market opportunities while also benefitting from the ongoing reputational damage experienced by the major banks resulting from the fallout of the 2019 Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation, and Financial Services Industry.
He said Auswide, which has its head office in Bundaberg, would continue to focus on optimising customer experience and increasing its younger demographic (customers under the age of 30) by investing in technology and expanding its digital services to incorporate Apple Pay, Google Pay, digital identification, and a new app and website.
Auswide Banks's interim financial year results and related documents can be accessed here.
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