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Why being customer-owned matters

August 11, 2023
November 24, 2022

In 2011 Bank Australia became Australia’s first customer-owned bank. But what does that actually mean? Why is it good news for people and the planet? And how are we getting the word out?

Balancing profit and purpose since 1957

Our shared history with our customers is one of coming together to achieve more than we could individually. We started life in 1957 as the CSIRO Co-operative Credit Society. From there we joined with 71 other credit unions and co-operatives to become Australia’s first customer-owned bank. In 2015 we changed our name to Bank Australia.

But we do things a little differently to your typical bank. One major difference is that we’re not listed on the stock exchange, which means we don't have shareholders. And because we don’t have to deliver financial profit to shareholders at all costs, we can balance profit and purpose, and make decisions that have a positive impact on people, communities and the planet.

Growing the clean money movement

As a Bank Australia customer, you’re part of a growing and powerful movement using money as a force for good. We received a great response to sharing this important message recently through attention-grabbing ads in key financial publications at a time of year when many are focused on shareholder ‘profits’.

Our ad (pictured above) appeared in financial publications and recently, highlighting our values as a customer-owned bank.
“Our profits benefit shareholders. We call them customers."

At Bank Australia, we do things differently. 

For starters, the people who own us are the people who use us. Yes, our shareholders are our customers.

People who believe in a fair and inclusive Australia. And we answer only to them. 

That’s why we return profits in the form of competitive rates and fair fees. And why we don’t pay executive bonuses, or invest our customers’ money in things like fossil fuels or live animal exports.

Because our customers tell us loud and clear. The bank that balances profit and purpose is the bank Australia needs.”

We’re already 185,000 customers strong at Bank Australia, with our assets increasing robustly, and every time we reach someone with this message we take another step forwards together

Our shareholders are our customers

When you become a Bank Australia customer, you become an equal owner in the bank and you get voting rights at our Annual General Meeting. Profits are returned to you in the form of competitive rates, fair fees and quality products and services.

And we take action on the issues that matter to you, like climate. As just one example: our net zero by 2035 target is the most ambitious of any Australian bank. You also get a say in where we invest your money and which issues we support through our impact fund.

“Bank Australia is a bank where I don’t have to feel like my needs as a customer are balanced with the needs of the shareholders. I’m one and the same.”

Mark, Bank Australia customer

Working towards a bright future

As a certified B Corporation and a member of the Global Alliance of Banking on Values (GABV), we’re also part of a worldwide network of more than 60 million people taking meaningful action to create the kind of world future generations deserve.

Together with our customers, we’re helping people and the planet thrive.

Learn more about being customer owned →

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