1st Alliance customer service team
By Ann Robertson - Chair
We now have our capital at just over 5% and are hopeful that although no Dividend is being paid this year we now have a secure base on which to grow, meeting regulators requirements.
This has been a year of change for our members. The closure of the members Current Account by the COOP bank caused an increased workload for staff for which we thank them in going that extra mile for you our members. We saw a large number of members leaving due to them having to move banks and are hopeful that most will return early May when we can provide a better Current account product for them. The closure of the account had a knock on effect on our finance. We still had to pay the shared fees whilst income from members using the card was diminishing as accounts closed.
The new operating system that we have spoken about for several years, now is live in two credit unions. This has and continues to be a key focus for the Board to ensure that the timing and functionality is right for our members, we will keep members informed as it develops.
I thank the other Board members for undertaking their role in the Company and for their continuing learning to ensure that we as a Board are seen as fit for purpose by the Regulators.
2017-2018 will be another year of change. We look forward to growing and developing the company on your behalf.
Loans grew out of sync with the majority of other credit unions. Our loans always remained above 70% to shares, whilst remaining between 2-3% bad debt. Our new project with North Ayrshire Council will allow us to lend small amounts to people who are borrowing from high cost interest providers, whilst at the same time not having a detrimental affect to the income of the credit union.
The restructure was hard on staff due to the length of time and the change of focus. We lost some members of staff whom we thank for their contribution during their time with us.
A new staff member was brought in and the team has settled and works well together to provide a quality service to our members.
Nicola Saunders was chosen from hundreds of applications to take part in a new learning programme for Credit unions, the aim of which is to develop our future leaders. We hope to be as successful in getting Demi a place next year.
We were able to agree the Engage card solution for some of our members when the CUCA card was closed.
The Board and staff are all participating in the ABCUL Academy online training. This provides us with ongoing sector training and knowledge that satisfies the Regulators that the Company is continuing to develop its skills and knowledge.
Closure of Current Account
This was the biggest challenge of the year. The COOP bank decided that this was not part of their service and looked to closing it by September 16. Staff supported members through this to access the Engage card solution, open bank account, transfer DWP benefits, landlords to change rent payment methods as well as a variety of other tasks.
The office has had a refit so that it was fit for purpose and met with Health & Safety regulations. The cost of this has been spread over the coming years.
The new system has been delayed and looks to be a September go live for us, we are addressing other solutions.
Closure of local banks
The new credit union current account card which is due in April will provide members with the banking services that they require; direct debit, faster payments; standing orders. This card is owned by the credit union so costs have been simplified from those of other providers. This will replace the Engage card for 1st Alliance.
Better North Ayrshire
This is a project led by North Ayrshire Council, that will see £3 million pounds come into the area for innovative financial inclusion joint up work. As part of a consortium we will provide low value loans to those most at risk from high cost debts and to offer an alternative to Brighthouse.