Big Sky Building Society starts operations

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The transfer of Big Sky Credit Union Limited to Australian Unity Limited’s existing subsidiary – Lifeplan Australia Building Society Limited – has received regulatory approval and the combined business, renamed Big Sky Building Society Limited, is effective today (1 March).

The transfer of Big Sky Credit Union Limited to Australian Unity Limited’s existing subsidiary – Lifeplan Australia Building Society Limited – has received regulatory approval and the combined business, renamed Big Sky Building Society Limited, is effective today (1 March).

Big Sky Building Society is now a subsidiary of Australian Unity Limited and has around 34,000 customers and approximately $650 million in gross assets. It forms part of the Australian Unity Investments business, itself a financial services operation with $11.5 billion in funds under management.

Big Sky Credit Union members have become members of Australian Unity Limited, retaining all existing product benefits as well as having access to Australian Unity’s broader range of products and services.

Australian Unity and Big Sky Building Society have already signalled that following the move, it intends to create an attractive alternative to the “big four” banks. Both organisations believe there is a healthy appetite for a genuine fifth pillar in banking.

Mr Tony Ryan, previously chief executive of Big Sky Credit Union and now chief executive of Big Sky Building Society, says that while there are clear opportunities and needs for alternatives to banks, particularly for home loans, it has also been shown that getting customers to switch is not easy.

“The government, consumer advocates, and even banks themselves, encourage borrowers to shop around, but people can be apathetic.

“We believe there is no better time to shop around as the rates available now can save borrowers thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a loan – money which if saved or invested may be a significant addition to retirement savings, instead of ending up as bank profits,“ Mr Ryan said.

He said the Big Sky Building Society strategy would initially focus on three main areas.

“Firstly, we will focus on the Australian Unity members and its existing 560,000 customers so that they are aware of the attractiveness of Big Sky Building Society products and encourage these people to “try it and see” by switching one part of their banking use to us, rather than taking the difficult step of transferring all their banking services in one go.

“We believe mutual society members are already comfortable with the concept, have a loyalty to the organisation they belong to, and are more likely to recognise the benefits in our products.

“Secondly, we will look at increasing our geographic footprint through Australian Unity, using this larger base to develop new opportunities – including enhancing our web-based business.

“Thirdly, our approach to all our customers will be to provide the appropriate banking, financial advice and insurance products and services to suit their ongoing needs over the course of their lifetime.

“We aim to build Big Sky Building Society into a meaningful and competitive alternative to the major banks,” Mr Ryan said.

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For more information please contact:

Tony Ryan –  Phone 03 8635 2812

1 March 2012