A chance visitor during Co-operatives Fortnight!
It was a pleasant surprise recently to welcome to Central Office an unexpected visitor, all the way from the Isle of Man! David Talbot is one of an enthusiastic band of Manx residents who are beavering away preparing the ground for the Island to have its very own Credit Union. David happened to be passing through our fair city on the way to the North Sea Ferry terminal en route for a family holiday and, finding himself with a couple of hours to spare, called in to Brook Street to take a look at us!
I hadn't taken a break so it was a perfect excuse to go for a coffee with David and learn a little more about the Manx Credit Union's ambitions. For me, it was something of a trip down memory lane because I had previous connections with the beautiful, magical Isle of Man, having been the Chairman from 1999 to 2009 of the Manx Co-operative Society. (If you haven't been to the Isle of Man for a holiday, I can wholeheartedly recommend it!) I well remember back in those days the idea of a credit union being talked about, and something that was generally felt to be a good idea. The problem was that, unlike in Britain where we have our Credit Unions Act 1979 and its regulatory framework, there was simply no legal provision for them!
However, David tells me that the idea has gradually but steadily accumulated a groundswell of support - the Church and some key Manx Government officers are backing it - and we all know that when that happens, you find yourself knocking at an open door. Some very patient and determined folk have spent a lot of hours putting together a legal framework to allow a credit union to be registered and to enjoy similar protection for its members' funds as we enjoy. So, with a fair wind, it won't be too long before the founders' dreams are realised and we can witness a credit union coming into flower in that part of the world.
Everyone here at HEYCU certainly wishes David and his colleagues every success and we hope to keep in touch as their plans unfold. You can find out more about their progress at http://www.mcu.im/
With so much ground to cover, I'm afraid our coffee break became extended and it must have been very boring for David's wife having to roam around Hull's shops while waiting for him! Apologies Mrs Talbot!
The above chance meeting seemed very apt for Co-operatives Fortnight. But what else has the CEO of Hull & East Yorkshire Credit Union been up to this week?
North Lincolnshire Council sign up days
I have spent a couple of days over in Scunthorpe, with David Martin, promoting our Credit Union to the employees of North Lincolnshire Council. A fair amount of interest was shown with Council staff especially keen to take up the offer of the £10 matched bonus on our Christmas Saver, which is open across Northern Lincolnshire until the end of July. The events took the form of a couple of "drop in" sessions at the Civic Centre and Church Square, but also set presentations to those teams who wanted them. We had employees very excited about the payroll deduction facility - several of them quoting "once set up you won't miss it" while others were asking about loans for car purchase, and saving up for children. The Housing Team were particularly interested in how we'll be able to help local residents to sort their rent payments in the new world of Universal Credits (the new state benefit that has now washed its way into Lincolnshire). We also met Councillors who were keen to join and become CU Champions.
We are most appreciative of the Council's support and they'll be seeing more from us, with another sign up day on Wednesday 8 July at Hewson House, Brigg from 10 am to 2 pm, and an advert and feature in their next residents' magazine, North Lincolnshire News Direct.
School banks project
Earlier this week a lady called Jessica visited us from our trade association, ABCUL. The purpose of the visit was to find out how we run our school banks and just what sort of administrative challenges they pose. Jessica is visiting several CUs who operate in schools and she hopes to create some ideas for sharing good practice, streamlining systems and helping to make school saving even more appealing to today's "tech savvy" rising generation. It was nice to meet her and we look forward to reading the results of her work.
Meanwhile, we're still receiving enquiries about opening more school banks and this week we launched at Paull Primary, a tiny gem of a school near the Humber foreshore just east of Hull. Aldborough Primary, on the Holderness coast, has also been in touch. It's "all go" in school just now, even though the summer holidays will soon be here!
Staffing matters (it really does!)
On Wednesday I attended a meeting of our Personnel Committee. This Committee, comprising four of our volunteer directors, is responsible for overseeing our role as an employer (of 22 staff). We meet four times a year to discuss staffing topics, training and welfare and, importantly, to review our personnel policies, making sure that we're not only keeping on the right side of the law, but also honouring our ethical intent to be a "good employer".
It's an area of work that our members popping into a branch to make their transactions perhaps wouldn't realise we do, as it's "behind the scenes" but a very essential one nevertheless. This time we discussed an action plan following our successful award of the Bronze Standard of Investors in People. It's very important that we don't rest on our laurels, but strive for the next awards - Silver and then Gold! So we're planning to re-run a training session for our staff on the Credit Union's Values and Principles, but this time extend it to volunteers as well. We will also introduce a set of Members' Promises, to monitor how well we are improving our customer care. It will be exciting to see these plans come to life and I am leaning heavily on our new elected Employees' Council to help me in this work.
Which brings me neatly to . . .
I hope those 4,000 or so of our members who have given us their email address have received our Summer E-News, which was issued on 2 July. It's packed with snippets of information about our products, services and projects. But there's also an opportunity to take part in our 2015 Member Satisfaction Survey which offers a chance to win a £50 prize as our "thank you". I hope you will take part in the survey, it only takes about 5 minutes and can be done on your computer, or if you prefer on paper in a branch. The directors take these surveys very seriously and we have brought in several changes as a result of the things members have suggested. We'll also share the findings with you at the AGM in December.
Online Loan Applications
I am so thrilled to announce that you can now apply for a Credit Union Loan on line! Take a look at our Loans page and then why not have a go? You'll need to scan your bank statements and (if any) payslips when prompted, so have them at the ready.
Are we falling out with cash?
According to the Payments Council, cashless payments have overtaken the use of notes and coins for the first time ever. Apparently in 2014 the use of cash by consumers, businesses and financial organisations fell to 48% of all payments.
Electronic transactions, ranging from high-value transfers to debit card payments, and cheques made up the remaining 52%. Over the next ten years, they say we're likely to see cash volumes fall by 30%, with the moves towards debit card, contactless and mobile payments driving the change.
The Payments Council, which oversees the system of transactions, says that 4.4% of adults rarely use cash at all, and only 1% of consumer payments were made by cheque last year. Cash is still the most common method of payment, though, with a staggering 18 billion cash payments worth £250 billion in 2014. In fact it was used in 8 out of 10 purchases in pubs, clubs, and newsagents last year, but only 3 out of 10 in petrol stations.
Did you know there is to be a new 12-sided £1 coin entering circulation in 2017 while the Bank of England is to bring in plastic £5 and £10 notes over the next couple of years? Well, I never!
Could our Prepaid VISA card help you this holiday season?Going abroad this year? Take your money with you on one of our Pre-Paid VISA cards. It’s a hand way to keep things separate!