A central Queensland rural financial counsellor has grave concerns for farmers in the Clermont area as ANZ bank closes its local branch.
Emma Cook is a financial counsellor with more than a decade of experience in the region believes the closure will hurt some farming businesses.
“Without a branch to walk into or a financial professional to connect with face to face, farmers may not be able to solve problems with their bank early if they end up in difficulty and will find it difficult to perform some key rural transactions or business” Ms Cook said.
“When the branch closes this week, the nearest branch will be more than 100 kilometres away so many of my clients and contacts are wondering what to do for their everyday banking needs,” said Emma Cook.
“Even with the best Internet banking systems farmers will struggle with Internet connectivity, know how and will need to travel for larger more complex transactions,” she said.
Clermont is home to about 3,000 people and services a vast number of rural properties in the area, both cropping and cattle.
The closure will not only impact on the region’s producers but also the broader community’s economy.
“A visit to town for most property owners is not an everyday event, so when the trip to town is made there is a list of things to do. Visiting the bank is often one of these things. If the bank is no longer in town, they may opt to make the trip to another town where there is a bank. Other businesses in town will also suffer,” she said.
Emma Cook strongly believes banks who close rural branches will lose customers.
"Downsizing existing branches might be a better option to maintain services and retain customers, as opposed to shutting up doors completely in rural centres,” Ms Cook said.
The ANZ bank will close its Clermont branch on the 16th of May.
Ms Cook understands that ANZ branches have also closed in Ingham and Moura.
RFCSNQ is one of 12 services nationally that provides free rural financial counselling service under the Australian and State Government supported program. Ms Cook is one of seven experienced Rural Financial Counsellors servicing the North Queensland region.
RFCSNQ provides a confidential, free and impartial rural financial counselling service to primary producers, fishers and small rural businesses who are suffering, or at imminent risk of suffering, financial hardship.
Contact details for RFCSNQ can be found at www.rfcsnq.com.au .
For further information or interview contact: Emma Cook, firstname.lastname@example.org 0499755233