Thursday, 3 December 2015

December is here!

Christmas Savings reach record high
Our members once again beat previous records in 2015, with total collective savings of £613,000 in their Christmas Saver accounts (last year's figure was just over half a million).   Of course that doesn't reflect the total funds saved up for Christmas as many members use our Instant Access accounts for that purpose (the ones with enough will power to resist dipping in presumably!). 

This tremendous result reflects the efforts we’ve put into promoting Christmas planning in recent years and the enthusiastic way our members have responded to the call.    Many families will surely be glad they did and as a result fewer will dread the arrival of those post-Christmas credit card bills or be tempted to take out high-cost short-term credit to pay for it. 

Since the Christmas Savers were "unlocked" on 1st November, our staff have paid out £470,000 and are still busy responding to requests.  Happy Christmas everyone!

AGM 2015
I am looking forward to our AGM next Tuesday - the 8th December - in Hull's historic Guildhall, starting at 5.45 pm.   For me, it is like a big annual "family gathering" when members of our Credit Union family come together to review all we have achieved, discuss our progress and announce our exciting plans for the year ahead.

Our AGM gives us a chance to show members and guests just what we do and share news and information about our products, services and the people who make it all happen - our wonderful staff, volunteer and partner team.

I do hope you’ll be able to come.  If you aim to arrive a little early, there will be some food and drink, (from 5.15 pm) and an opportunity to mingle with other members.   We will have our ever popular Fairtrade stall to entice you with festive gifts and treats, plus a free raffle and maybe even some goodies to share out as a "thank you" for coming.

The directors and I look forward to seeing you there!

Northern Lincolnshire Partnership Officer
We're delighted to announce the appointment of Carmel Seston as our Partnership Officer for Northern Lincolnshire.

Carmel is very experienced in financial services, the world of education and the voluntary sector.  As a primary school teacher she used resources provided by PFEG to introduce financial capability into the school curriculum.  With Irish family roots, Carmel has always been familiar with credit unions, which are found everywhere in Ireland.  During 2015 she has been our East Riding Project Officer, working to establish school savings clubs on the north bank, a role which will run alongside her new duties.

Carmel has already started working with the Winterton 2022 project to develop school banks and community contact points in the town of Winterton.  She will also support our growing partnerships with the Ongo Group, North Lincolnshire Council and North Lindsey College.  I know she has already met many members of the Northern Lincolnshire community and we wish her every success in her new role.

School Banks News
Our new Pennies 2 Pounds bank at Appleton Primary School in Hull had a fantastic launch with 28 savers joining on the first day.

Pennies 2 Pounds Christmas Card Competition
·        The schools team ran a competition among the P2P schools to colour a Christmas Card, which attracted 24 entries.  The winners of a selection box and £5 HEYCU savings voucher were:
·        Key stage 1 - Leah Pearson (Northfield Primary)
·        Key stage 2 – Abigail Little (Roos Primary).
·        Everyone who entered will be receiving a party bag in the next week or so, with our thanks for taking part.

Credit Unions meet to prepare for transformation
HEYCU joined other credit unions entering the transformation phase of the Credit Union Expansion Project (CUEP) in Manchester for a special conference last week.  Over 70 delegates from 35 credit unions attended.
The Transformation Programme will see credit unions like ours introduce a new range of modern products, services and access channels for our members during 2016.
The conference began with a special message from Lord Freud reiterating the UK Government’s ongoing support for the credit union sector, and the Chair of Cornerstone Mutual Services, Lord Hunt, welcomed credit unions to the event.
Delegates then enjoyed a packed programme of presentations and workshops on topics ranging from the automated lending system known as PowerCurve, how to prepare for migration, credit union governance and the marketing support available for transforming credit unions.
The CUEP is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, and the Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL) won the contract to deliver it. CUEP is managed by Cornerstone Mutual Services,  ABCUL’s subsidiary company.
ABCUL Chief Executive Mark Lyonette said: “Credit unions have made a very significant commitment in signing up for transformation, and there is a clear determination to deliver products and access channels that will attract and serve a new generation of credit union members.
“As credit unions continue to engage with the project, 2016 promises to be a momentous year for Britain’s credit union movement.”

Board Assessment
Our members may not be aware of all the work that goes on “behind the scenes” to make sure our Credit Union is governed in the best possible way.

Each year HEYCU's directors conduct a self-evaluation survey, to help them monitor how well they perform as a board, and as individual directors, and discover any areas for improvement.   Each director completes a questionnaire which is then sent confidentially to an independent assessor, who collates all the results and presents them with an Assessment Report.  The annual survey has now run for three years, so it's possible to observe trends in each area.  

The areas covered and a summary of the Assessor’s latest findings are:
·        Board performance - here the overall score was 85% in 2013; 85.2% in 2014 and 88.2% in 2015, showing that the directors feel the Board is working together better than ever.
·        Strategic management - 2014's big increase has been maintained, reflecting the significant work done on two major projects - the North Lincs CU merger and the Credit Union Expansion Project (CUEP)
·        Board governance - the score is up to 82% this year (80.7% in 2014) and only dented slightly by some concerns about lack of diversity in the Board's membership.
·        Individual director performance - an average score of 87.7% (84% in 2014) shows a confident and accomplished team of directors who really do perform well together.
·        When asked what issues had occupied the Board this year, most directors quoted CUEP, the merger, business planning and the loans strategy, with the merger being the stand out success they took special satisfaction from.  Diversity and a good mix of skills are key areas they feel need addressing, while in the coming year they feel the board should focus specially on increasing the Credit Union’s loan activity, CUEP and attracting new members.

The Assessor summed up his report with "Volunteer directors are not easy to keep motivated and focused yet the results of three years of surveying board performances show evidence of consistency that would impress the staunchest Investors in People assessors."  "The leadership of HEYCU must take some credit for the creation of a cohesive board team" and "this survey ... allows greater scrutiny of the workings of the Board of Directors than many similar businesses would allow".   

We hope our member-owners take some pride in these findings, but we will not rest in our aim of working towards world class standards of governance here at HEYCU.

Business Start-up Loans
Do you know anyone who is planning to start their own business, or who has been running one for less than two years? If so, why not tell them about our Business Start-up Loan?   It could be just what is needed to put their new business on the ladder of success.

Applicants can be considered for loans of up to £25,000 per business, repayable over 12 to 60 months.   The interest rate is a very competitive 6.19% APR.  

We can also make available free mentoring and other special offers.

Applications are open to most kinds of businesses – we know for example that people are thinking about the business opportunities that Hull City of Culture 2017 and beyond will bring.
For details of the information we will require to consider a loan please visit our web page.

Member Satisfaction Survey Q&As
Here's another question that a member raised in this year's Member Survey and our response:
Q:  Could members be informed if their money would be better in a higher interest account?
A:  As a Credit Union we are not allowed to advertise rates of interest on dividend-bearing savings accounts.  Returns on different accounts are in the form of a dividend (share of profits) which is declared at the AGM in December each year and posted to accounts the next day.  On our website we show the dividends paid on each account over the last few years, so that members have an idea of past returns (although these cannot be a guarantee of future returns).  The savings accounts we offer have slightly different terms and conditions (some are instant access; others have limits on withdrawals etc) so members can judge for themselves which one is best for their needs.

Get organised for Christmas 2016

Get organised for next Christmas with our special Saver account - an ideal way to save for the festive season 

·        Be prepared and save in advance

·        Easy ways to pay in whenever you like

·        We’ll look after your money safely 

If you've never had a Christmas Saver with us before, we'll match your first deposit up to £10 when you open one.   If you live in Northern Lincolnshire, your friend can also earn £5 for referring you!