The benefits of banking mutual
The difference between a ‘mutual’ and ‘publicly-listed’ financial institution comes down to one fundamental pillar – who owns the institution itself. When you bank with a credit union, building society or a mutual bank, like Gateway, you become part owner of the organisation and are afforded a voice in how we govern.
On the other hand, commercial banks, such as the Big 4, are owned by external shareholders so unless you expressly purchase a large number of shares in a publicly-listed bank, decisions around how it operates are out of your control.
Can I trust a mutual?
The short answer is: absolutely! You can trust us to keep your money safe and trust us to do the right thing.
In order to trade as a ‘customer-owned bank’, a mutual, credit union or building society must meet a number of guidelines on minimum capital requirements as set by Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). On top of this, mutuals, just like the Big 4 and other commercial banks, are Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions (ADIs). This means they are overseen by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) and APRA, and are regulated in the same way as all other banks in Australia.
When banking with a mutual, you can rest assured that your investments are backed by a Federal Government Guarantee. This protects deposits of up to $250,000, per account holder, in the unlikely event that something happens to your financial institution.
Who can join a mutual bank?
Anyone can become a member of Gateway Bank.
All you need is proof of identification, such as a Medicare card, driver’s license or passport.
Other credit unions, building societies or mutual banks may have a bond of association with a certain group or organisation. This means that some institutions in the mutual sector may limit membership based on a set of criteria, for example, your profession, your employer or your locality.
The benefits are crystal clear
Mutual banks make up an essential pillar of Australia’s banking sector, without which there would be little competition in the industry. Banking competition is fundamental in managing the threat to the stability of Australia’s banking sector and the wider economy.
On top of supporting an important part of the banking industry, when you bank with a mutual you can feel confident that your financial institution puts you first. Rather than paying out dividends to external shareholders as retail banks do, mutual and customer-owned institutions will reinvest their profits back into the institutions to provide better products and services for their members.
Finally, mutual banks adhere to the Customer Owned Banking Code of Practice (COBCOP), which is a commitment to providing a member-focussed banking experience to consumers. It promises that:
- We will be fair and ethical in our dealings with you
- We will focus on our customers
- We will give you clear information about our products and services
- We will be responsible lenders
- We will deliver high customer service and standards
- We will deal fairly with any complaints
- We will recognise our customers’ rights as owners
- We will comply with our legal and industry obligations
- We will recognise our impact on the wider community
- We will support and promote this Code of Practice
Joining the mutual movement
It may seem like a massive task to transfer your long list of regular payments and direct debits over to a new bank but here at Gateway, we make it simple.
Speak to one of our Customer Care Team Members, who can take you through the process and do most of the work for you. Otherwise, if you’d prefer to D-I-Y, you can follow our simple steps to take the leap and make a change that will benefit you!