HAVE WE BEEN DOING?
At the end of June, we passed the three-quarter point of our financial year, which runs from October 2020 to September 2021. With all the turmoil affecting personal and business life, you may be keen to know how your Credit Union is faring:
· Business has been steadily returning to its normal seasonal pattern since Easter and we’ve recently enjoyed a record inflow of loan applications of all sizes.
· New member recruitment (net) is around 34% ahead of the same period last year.
· Members’ Savings – now totalling £13.7 million – are up by 14%. Lots of members have increased their regular savings as they were unable to spend normally. It will be interesting to see whether these funds flow out as the economy bounces back.
· After a big fall in demand for Members’ Loans (especially for larger loans), we’ve now issued 28% more loans this year than over the same period of 2020.
· With income (mainly loan and bank interest) a little higher, and costs well under control, we’ve earned a higher Surplus (after tax and dividends) than a year ago.
It also gives me and the Directors some satisfaction that, despite the tough challenges our staff and volunteers faced, we never failed to provide our members with a service for even a day during the whole Covid period. A big thank you to our fantastic team and to our members for your superb loyalty!
OUR SPEEDIER DIGITAL JOURNEY
I asked Matthew, our Project & Systems Manager, to explain how we’ve moved on apace with adopting new technology solutions to improve our members’ and colleagues’ experience. While some changes were brought forward in 2020 to help us through Covid times, they form part of a longer term Digital Strategy that we’re developing, in conjunction with our main software partners and other key providers.
On our Website, we’ve simplified the Become a Member section, making it easier for new members to join, whether to save or borrow, without having to click through lots of screens. Electronic IDV means applicants often don’t need paper documents to prove their ID and address. Our Web App, which lets members make transactions and apply for loans from any device, gains new users every week, with over 60% of members now using it regularly.
We introduced a more user-friendly online loan application experience. A postcode look-up feature helps applicants enter their home details correctly. Applicants receive emails to keep them updated, giving them peace of mind and avoiding the need for follow up calls. For us, it eliminates manual paperwork and data input, helping to turn loans round even quicker (same day sometimes).
We now use Open Banking during the loan assessment process, to view an applicant’s bank account history and, when a loan is approved, we can use an electronic signature system, and a messaging facility to keep in touch. On our website, there’s a chatbot called Jude, who answers queries and provides information even when our offices are closed.
Technology has even transformed our meetings! Instead of our Directors having to travel long distances to a central boardroom, they now use Go to Meeting, connecting virtually from their own home or office, just as members did for the 2020 AGM. Many business meetings are held this way using various systems (Zoom, Teams etc).
We use Mail Chimp and Social Media to tell our ongoing story and engage with members. Do make sure HEY Credit Union is “white listed” on your email account to avoid our news dropping into your junk folder. We collect data (analytics) to learn about the effectiveness of each activity, what works well and what doesn’t.
PROGRESS IN BRANCHES
Unlike our major banking competitors, HEY Credit Union isn’t planning to withdraw its branch network. While many members happily deal with us online or by phone, our walk-in branches offer a vital personal presence, where local residents can call in to see our friendly teams face-to-face. We know they are valued.
After some temporary closures due to lack of staff cover (some colleagues had to look after family members or home-school their children), all branches are now welcoming members back:
Goole and Driffield re-opened in March, with a free raffle for all members popping in. Driffield volunteers handled record deposits on their opening day and their raffle prizes were provided by local businesses The CoZee Café and Raffles Fruit Shop. Goole held a fund-raiser for the Toy Appeal and Yorkshire Air Ambulance plus a Euro 2020 themed draw, with a super prize donated by Morrisons.
Bridlington branch was given a mini-refit and painted inside and out, to greet members with a sparkling new look when it re-opened, and a new team member – Helen - joining Sarah. They have started a Bridlington Members Facebook page – if you live in the area, please give it a Like, and keep in touch with all the news!
Withernsea branch works with the new Shores Community Pantry to make users aware of Credit Union services; a Spring Newsletter went to all homes via Royal Mail and some cheery window stickers were issued to local traders to show support for our Big Local funded Credit Union Town project.
Scunthorpe and Hull Central branches remained open throughout, but with restricted hours and Covid safety measures always in place.
Finally, Grimsby/Cleethorpes is the only large urban area (population 127,000) in our region without a branch. I am pleased to say we are seeking a suitable town centre base and plan to be up and running very soon.
CREDIT UNION PEOPLE NEWS
It’s been a time of change on the “people” front, too, with our long-serving, first ever Finance Manager, Eddie Hotham, retiring at the end of March after 22 years’ service! John says, “We shall really miss Eddie; she started along with me as one of the founder volunteers back in 1999, and has been a constant presence, ever willing to take on new challenges, but always determined to keep our finances in good shape. We all wish her a long, happy and well-earned retirement.”
Two new members recently joined our volunteer Board of Directors:
Terry Dagnall is a self-employed shop owner in Withernsea. He is passionate about improving the East Coast town and getting a better way of life for its residents. A member of Withernsea Big Local, a Town Councillor and Town Mayor 2017-20, Terry is also a Director and Chairman of the Meridian Centre.
Matthew Kelly has nearly 20 years' experience working in social housing and currently serves as Income Manager for Ongo Homes in Scunthorpe, one of our payroll partners. He served on the board of Advice North Lincs and is a member of the Institute of Leadership and Management.
On the staff team, we welcome Lauren (Branch Development) back from maternity leave after the birth of her daughter, Eleanor. And Matthew Lloyd (Withernsea Branch) has been selected nationally to take part in this year’s CU Futures, a leadership development programme for young credit union professionals.
WE’VE BEEN OUT AND ABOUT…
Pleased to see our Social Impact Report getting some great coverage in around 20 newspapers and web magazines recently. The articles, tailored to each of the main towns where we have branches, explained how we’ve been helping people and families across the Humber Region, and beyond, to improve their financial wellbeing since 1999. Thank you to the local members who agreed to be interviewed for these stories, you did a fabulous job. Take a look at the stories here.
Some of you may have spotted us at the Hull Big Malarkey this year. This popular weekend festival, a celebration of arts, crafts and literature for young people organised by Hull Libraries, was held in East Park at the end of June and we were proud to sponsor it.
We’re also featured in the Hull & East Riding Mumbler, a much-visited online parenting community. Head over there to see our articles, ads and offers.
A SPECIAL VISIT
Finally, in May we were honoured with a visit from the Lord Mayor of Kingston upon Hull, Councillor Lynn Petrini, accompanied by Councillor Gwen Lunn. They made two presentations, one to our staff team in recognition of the way they’ve gone the extra mile to help the people of Hull during these difficult times. Steve Verity, Acting Branch Co-ordinator, accepted on behalf of all colleagues. And then, much to my surprise, they presented me with an engraved tankard and Lord Mayor’s Certificate in appreciation of my work for the community over many years, as a local government officer, Co-operative Group director and first ever CEO of HEY Credit Union. I was very thrilled with my award and will treasure it always.
Don’t forget, we are here to help – please give us the chance. Here’s 3 ways to support us too:
· Leave a review on Trustpilot.
· Recommend a friend, family member or work colleague to join us.
· Vote for us in the Consumer Credit Awards – by 15 August – you could win £1,000!