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Welcome to the new, friendly face of banking

Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall saw a new store opening with a difference this week.

There was a cool shrub wall, baristas, big screen computers, and lots of fresh coloured walls. There was even space for kids to play games on free iPads.

People walking in off the street are greeted by a concierge, offered free coffee, Wi Fi and the chance to chat about their lifestyle hopes and dreams.

But this isn’t the latest fashion store from Europe or America.

Welcome to the new, refreshingly friendly face of financial services – a one-stop shop in the middle of one of Australia’s busiest retail malls.

It’s called a one-stop shop with good reason. You can find everything you need here for a new home: from a loan to a builder, and from a removalist to an insurer.

There will be events and seminars – perhaps a classic car auction from Shannons, or a yoga class from AAMI (both Suncorp brands).

The idea is to make financial products accessible – take them to where the customers are, and be prepared to answer their questions. You can chat to a home loan expert online – or arrange for one to come to you.

To borrow the AAIMI tagline, that doesn’t sound very homeloany…

Christ Fleming, head of stores, told Really Simple Money more than eight million people walk through Pitt Street Mall every year. The Discovery Store is targeting them.

Suncorp already has two concept stores where they have tested ideas for this venture, and they will be running events from both local partnerships (Virgin, Microsoft, JB Hi Fi) and their own brands.

“We’ve got the ability to connect to financial planners, We discover the need and connect to the solution. We’ve got instore lenders or lenders who can come to you.”

Each month the entire space will be transformed to deliver a brand-new customer experience, with innovative product showcases, guest speakers and workshops focused on improving financial wellbeing,

“We want visitors to really take advantage of the space, drop in, have a coffee and wander around to see what’s on offer. Pitt Street Mall is one of Australia’s busiest retail precincts. It’s not just a place to shop, but also where people socialise and immerse themselves in new brands and experiences,” says Pip Marlow, CEO Customer Marketplace.

The Discovery Store, opened by Ms Marlow and Footy Show host Erin Molan, will be open 7 days, including late trading.

The upper level of the store is dedicated to customer conversations, learning and interactive workshops, while downstairs provides transactional banking services and access to other financial services specialists.

Mr Fleming has no doubt others will follow Suncorp’s example. And judging by the response of the crowd this week, that would be a good thing.