Non-banks recognise branch value

After more than a decade of branch closures, recognition that a branch presence remains a valuable part of financial institutions' service offering appears to be growing.

While some major banks have curtailed branch rationalisation programs, non-bank lenders are working to build up branch networks after many shied away from the strategy in the 1990s.

West Australian-based Homeloans Ltd plans to establish 50 new branch offices under license by the end of 2003, further extending a fast growing national presence.

Wizard Home Loans plans to open another 40 branches nationally by the end of the year including 20 in Victoria alone. Nationally, Wizard has 161 outlets currently, most in NSW, but has plans to have 60 to 65 in Victoria.

Homeloans chief operating officer John McGee said there has already been considerable interest from finance professionals in running one of the licensed specialist home mortgage outlets.