A Welsh Credit Union has bucked national trends in key areas of lending, membership and asset growth despite the Lockdown.
Bank of England (BoE) figures show that, in the six months to June, Smart Money Cymru Credit Union (SMCCU) saw a massive 35% uplift in loans to its members. In Wales, credit union lending rose 9% and in England it increased by 2%.
Mark White, Chief Executive of SMCCU, is delighted with the organisation’s performance over this difficult period.
“As a whole Welsh Credit Unions are helping their clients emerge from the very difficult times we have endured with a significant rise in loans.
“Smart Money Cymru, though, has performed beyond all expectations, helping its members with timely and affordable lending. These BoE figures make excellent reading for us.”
In terms of growing its membership, SMCCU, with offices in Caerphilly, Blackwood and Tredegar, has also outperformed both the UK and Wales. In the UK the number of people using the services of Credit Unions was virtually unchanged at 1.9 million; in Wales, though, Credit Union membership dwindled by 5.78% to 66,000 in the BoE statistical period.
SMCCU increased membership by just under 4%, in addition to the extra membership added by the recent mergers with Blackwood and Plaid Cymru Credit unions.
“We are delighted to say that we have added a significant number of members in that time,” added Mr White.
Meanwhile, people are trusting the credit union with more of their savings – SMCCU’s assets had also grown by nearly 5%, while Welsh Credit Unions had shown a rise of 1.45%.
Mr White believes the strong performance of Smart Money Cymru is due to several factors.
“Communication with our clients and local community has been very important during these unprecedented times. We have a strong, high street presence and have put a lot of work into keeping in touch with people, and understanding their needs in the present circumstances.”
Improved technology and services were also supporting the growth of the Credit Union.
“These include a phone app for balance-checking, access to an Engage Current Account which supports direct debits, standing orders and processing of card payments.
“The loan process has also been streamlined enabling members to apply online from home, or in-branch with the help of our staff.”
Smart Money Cymru recently celebrated 30 years of serving the community. In that time it has grown into a sophisticated organisation offering a wide variety of financial services to individuals, businesses and charities.
Credit Unions, said Mr White, played an important, but sometimes undervalued role in communities.
“The CU philosophy is to be financially sympathetic to its members and offer fair and reasonable access to finance and financial services where we can.”