A FORTITUDE Valley financial institution has become increasingly popular since securing bank status from regulatory authorities.

QT Mutual Bank has expanded its membership and stable of financial products since the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority awarded it bank status in July 2011.

The bank, previously known as Queensland Teachers’ Credit Union, was established in 1965 and now employs about 220 staff.

Since its October 2011 rebranding, QT recorded a jump in enquiries and new memberships, with January 2012 representing the strongest membership growth in almost one year (2 per cent).

Online enquiries were up 43 per cent in February compared to the previous month, with interest coming from as far as New South Wales and Western Australia.

CEO Mike Murphy (pictured) plans to capitalise on the online market by upgrading the bank’s information technology systems.

“We have a budget set out for the next 12 months to invest $3 million in our IT capabilities. We will enhance our online capabilities to make sure they are more efficient,” he says.

“We will use external organisations for the majority of cases. Queensland-based companies have been appointed, but I cannot identify them.”

Boasting some 77,000 members, QT is optimistic that it will be a contender against larger banks.

“We believe the general community is looking for alternatives to the big banks. Our shift to become a mutual bank gives members greater strength and security,” says Murphy.

“Our customers are our owners and we do not have outside shareholders requiring profits and dividends. We provide fairly priced products for our members.”

He dismisses concerns that QT may suffer the same fate as a raft of small banks that have been acquired by larger suitors.

“I do not believe it is inevitable that we will be bought out by the big four,” he says.

“We will focus on being more competitive and a better customer-value proposition than the majors.”

Murphy points to QT’s capped 8.99 per cent variable rate car loan, which can decrease but not exceed the starting rate.

“People want certainty in relation to interest rate increases – as they affect their circumstances and personal budgets,” he says.

“Our 6.85 per cent Rate Tracker home loan rises and falls in line with the official cash rate. Our 7.27 per cent standard variable rate is cheaper than Bank of Queensland and Suncorp [at time of publication]. We offer a fair deal to our customers and are not out to maximise profits.”

QT had $1.17 billion funds under management in the 2011 financial year. Murphy predicts they will grow by 6 per cent to $1.24 billion in fiscal 2012.

“We are expecting the growth to continue steadily throughout the year as more Queenslanders realise the savings that can be made by switching from the big banks,” he says.

“We will expand our footprint, opening up branches in areas we do not have representation yet. We have identified the Sunshine Coast and four other areas as possible locations. The Sunshine Coast is growing and we think there are lots of opportunities there.”

For now, Murphy will focus on maintaining QT’s culture of friendly and personalised service.

“We try to tailor personalised solutions by listening, establishing relationships and trust,” he says.

“I always tell my staff to follow the ‘ownit principle’ of being accountable and responsible for customer relationships. We try to ensure our employees go the extra mile and be the owner of satisfying those needs.”

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