Walking into the Wanganui branch of The Co-Operative Bank is like walking into the bar made famous in the TV sit-com Cheers. It's a bank where everybody knows your name.
And it's that personal touch which Wanganui branch manager Jon Palmer said is probably the biggest driver behind the bank's stellar growth patterns.
"We've got close to 6000 customers with our branch and we were the fastest-growing branch in the group nationwide last year, signing up 600 new customers. And we're one of the fastest-growing branches again this year," Mr Palmer said.
Nationally, The Co-Operative Bank registered 10,000 new customers last year.
The Wanganui branch's service has also been recognised in the Mainstreet Wanganui business awards, too, and Mr Palmer puts that success down to his staff of 10.
"We've got a fantastic team here. The staff are honestly interested in the people they deal with and that's a big difference between us and the other banks.
"One of the comments we get a lot is that as soon as customers walk in through our door the staff greet them by name. We get to know our customers by getting to know them and building that personal relationship with each and every one of them."
Mr Palmer has been involved with the bank for 20 years, beginning in Wanganui when it was known as the PSIS. He spent time in some branches around the country before coming back to the city as manager two years ago.
"We really specialise in personal banking. We don't have a credit card at the moment, but that's coming early next year," he said.
The Co-Op Bank does all the usual banking business, handling personal savings and lending, mortgage lending, term deposits and internet banking.
And just a few weeks ago the unique side of the bank was shown when it handed back $1 million in cash rebates to the majority of its customers and $43,000 of that went to Wanganui clients.
"That highlights our big point of difference with the other banks. We're a co-operative, our customers own us and have the ability to vote for board members. They're a part of the business," Mr Palmer said.
He said the fact the bank paid those rebates was getting them "a lot of mileage".
Not everyone received a windfall because certain criteria had to be met "but nearly all customers here got something". In Wanganui most received a rebate of between $5 and $200.
"We're hoping to increase the amount of the rebate, too."
The branch's growth was coming from people shifting over from other banks.
"We have a lot of loyal customers with us, and they're the best advertisement you could have. They tell others what they've experienced here, and that's where we're generating a lot of new customers," he said.
The bank had started a TV advertising campaign highlighting its point of difference to other trading banks.
"There's a very true message in that campaign, because I believe people are getting sick of literally billions of dollars in bank profits being shifted over to Australia," Mr Palmer said.
He said his bank would never say it would always have the best term deposit rate or mortgage rate, "but we're competitive and there or thereabouts".
"One of our core values is about being fair," he said.
Bruce McLachlan, the bank's chief executive, said this year marked the first full year as a registered bank and profits, before rebates and tax, had risen 21.6 per cent to $8 million.
"We are, and have always been, built on the idea of giving back," Mr McLachlan said.
And while surplus profit was reinvested to fund growth, this year the bank started sharing that profit with its customers.
Meanwhile the Wanganui branch shifts into new premises around the first week of September. "We're moving on to the sunny side of the avenue," Mr Palmer said.