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Welcome to Gateway Bank

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It’s been a long process, but we’ve done it. We’ve changed our name. From this Thursday it becomes official when we begin trading as Gateway Bank Ltd. It’s a small change that we hope will make a big difference. Our new moniker better reflects what we do and will present us in a more contemporary light. 

As banking evolves and times change, so must we. The harsh reality is that the credit union brand needs a facelift - it’s not well understood, particularly among younger Australians. That’s why we have switched brands and adopted the label of a bank. But it’s not a case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”.

To be clear, there are two kinds of banks in the world - those owned by customers and those owned by shareholders. We are becoming a customer-owned bank and will therefore continue to be owned by our members and not some outside group of external shareholders.

As smaller institutions, mutuals (credit unions and building societies) are subject to the same regulations as the biggest banks in the land. But the restrictive use of the title “bank” has understandably led many Australians to erroneously believe that mutuals are not as safe - but this is not the case.

So the mutual sector began lobbying the Federal government following the Global Financial Crisis. In December 2010, the Rudd government moved to introduce more competition into Australia’s banking sector. The then Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, announced that eligible credit unions and building societies could apply to use the term “bank” in their name.

Last year, the Turnbull government announced further banking reforms to enable all credit unions and building societies to legally call themselves banks. Federal Treasurer, Scott Morrison, argued that removing naming restrictions would create a more level playing field and increase competition.

Gateway is a cautious institution by nature and saw no need to be an early adopter of the government’s reforms. However, we now proudly join the ranks of the other 21 credit unions and building societies which have successfully re-branded as banks while retaining their mutual structure.

In many respects, our rebranding is cosmetic in nature - it won’t change who we are or what we do. As Gateway Bank Ltd, we will remain focussed on helping members financially to achieve their hopes and dreams. And we will continue to reinvest our profits back into better systems and products.

The eagle-eyed among you may notice the slight change to our logo. Beyond that, it will be business as usual. We’re still the same people with the same service ethos bringing you award-winning products and services. But we hope to be more appealing to a younger demographic under the banner of a bank.

I was appointed to my first role in the credit union sector 35 years ago. Since that time, I have been a staunch advocate of credit unions. Nonetheless, I can tell you from first-hand experience that many Australians have either not heard of us or view credit unions as closed shops.

If you were to go into any primary school in Australia and speak to Year 5 students, they would be able to explain to you the concept of a bank. However, if you were to ask that same class of students to explain what a credit union does, you would invariably be greeted with silence.

That ignorance of credit unions is carried forward into adult life which is why today’s younger adults (the millennials) are typically not credit union members. Convincing millennials that you are an innovative and tech savvy financial institution is almost impossible when your image screams “1970s”.

Repositioning the Gateway brand will help shake off misconceptions and provide us with an elevated presence in the market. We will be leveraging our new brand to expand our footprint, particularly among the younger generation. As a bank, we are far more likely to be part of their consideration set when they are searching for financial services.

Hanging out a shingle as Gateway Bank Ltd represents an exciting new era in our history. Some might say that it will make us the new kid on the block. In reality, we have been making a positive difference in the lives of our members since 1955 and that will not change.

At Gateway, we respect the past while embracing the future and have captured this paradox in the operating statement - constantly changing while forever staying the same. Yes, we are altering our name, but will remain true to the ideals of our founding fathers and their people helping people philosophy.

Shakespeare was right to ask, “What’s in a name?”. Every business knows the importance of choosing the right name. We are calling ourselves a bank because - to paraphrase Shakespeare - a rose by any other name would not smell as sweet.

Paul J. Thomas, CEO


avatar Des Tubridy
Paul, congratulations on the rebranding. Agreed wholeheartly with the rationale. All the best for the future. Des
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CEO Paul Thomas