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Ockerby changes banks

OCKERBY Real Estate, one of Western Australia’s largest residential real estate firms, is switching its banking business from BankWest to Challenge Bank.

Owner and director Robert Ockerby said the change had delivered significant bottom line savings for his business.

Ockeby’s decision to switch banks makes it relatively unusual.

A recent report by KPMG for the Australian Bankers’ Association found that only about 11 per cent of small and mid sized businesses change banks over any two-year period.

Mr Ockerby said he approached two major banks to seek a better deal.

He said the move to Challenge had resulted in savings in both interest payments on company loans as well as transaction fees.

However the biggest reason for the change was competition between Ockerby’s conveyancing business, Seaview Settlements, and BankWest’s in-house conveyancing business.

“They were taking my income away from me, after I found the business,” Mr Ockerby said.

He said Ockerby sought to maximise its income by handling the conveyancing for clients buying properties.

However, in cases where clients obtained finance from BankWest, bank staff referred the clients to the bank’s own conveyancing service.

“We were getting the customers and they were reaping the benefits,” Mr Ockerby said.

“It might be business but why should I compete with my own bank?”

Mr Ockerby said he had a meeting with senior bank staff about five years ago and reached agreement to cease the practice.

However, the bank eventually resumed chasing Ockerby’s conveyancing clients, he said.

Mr Ockerby said he was surprised by the savings his business had achieved following the decision to change banks.

One area of savings was transaction fees, he told WA Business News.

Ockerby generates a large volume of transactions as a result of managing more than 1,300 rental clients.

Every rental payment, via BPay or direct debit into a trust account, resulted in payment of a bank fee.

“There have been huge savings on those fees,” Mr Ockerby said.

The business was also paying lower interest rates on its mortgage loans over three company owned premises, at Karratha, Padbury and Mandurah.

“We just accepted what [BankWest] charged.

“There is no bargaining with them.

“You don’t want trouble, you don’t want hassle.”

Cottesloe-based Ockerby is the fifth largest residential real estate firm in Perth, according to WA Business News Book of Lists.

The firm currently has six offices and 85 staff, including 35 sales representatives.

Ironically, Ockerby’s decision to leave BankWest followed the reopening of the bank’s branch in Napoleon Street, Cottesloe.

Mr Ockerby said the original branch closure had been inconvenient, forcing his staff to drive to Claremont, where parking near the bank was not readily available.

The firm had since resumed trading at the Cottesloe branch.

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