IN an exercise that he proudly announced as "bucking the trend", PIBA Australian general manager Neil Dobbin said PIBA was "still opening branches" while others were closing theirs.
The new PIBA branch at Geraldton was an indication of the bank's growing importance as a supplier of rural finance, as well as its commitment to being close to its clients and being a part of the community.
As a subsidiary of Rabobank, PIBA is a part of "probably the largest rural bank in the world", a connection that allows the bank to provide its clients with a global perspective of agriculture and where it is heading.
This connection also provides PIBA with "the strength and capital to grow", because Rabobank's structure as a co-operative removes the normal push to service shareholders, so the profits are used to "grow the business", Mr Dobbin said.
PIBA supplies a whole-of-agriculture service by targeting the three areas of the industry ‹ the corporate sector, the rural area and the service sector.
Mr Dobbin reminded those attending that PIBA had formed an alliance with Wesfarmers Landmark and "we provide the finance that Wesfarmers on-lend to its clients".
The bank is now moving into the area of financial planning and will soon offer an independent service to its clients on this increasingly important aspect of farming, including advice on succession planning.
Perhaps the most telling comment came from a client who noted that, unlike the previous trading bank he had dealt with, the PIBA staff "know what a tractor and wheat plant actually look like".
The growth in business in the region had shown that PIBA needed greater resources to service the demand, with the opening of the Geraldton branch bringing to 33 the number of branches PIBA now has open in Australia.
The 520 employees in Australia, when combined with another 120 operating in New Zealand, give the company combined assets of $11.5b in the region.