Credit union members vote "yes" to redefine sector's future

Published: Tue 19 Mar 2019 12:54 PM
Tuesday 19th March
The members of four New Zealand credit unions have voted to unite as one, showing their support to create a competitive alternative to mainstream banking in New Zealand.
The final meeting was on Friday 15th March with the accepting credit union NZCU Baywide, when 97% of the members who voted were in favour of the merger. This followed a week of meetings and voting from other merger partners.
The unification of NZCU South, NZCU Central, Aotearoa Credit Union and NZCU Baywide creates scale efficiencies that will allow the merged credit union to better serve the larger group of member owners.
The merged credit union will trade as NZCU Baywide, until such time as a review is completed alongside re-establishing the strategic direction. It will be the largest credit union in New Zealand with approximately $560m in assets and serving around 64,000 New Zealand member owners. The resounding ‘yes’ vote follows special meetings held across the country last week.
Iain Taylor, Chair of NZCU Baywide, is very upbeat following a week of meetings and membership voting.
“When we formally announced our intent to unite in December 2018, we were simply building on earlier collective discussions to provide solid foundations for a sustainable future. We have, from day one, held a vision to continue to develop a strong, competitive and sustainable sector that delivers on its purpose of ‘people helping people’ across New Zealand.”
“This is the stepping stone to bigger things for the credit union sector. Together, we have, and will continue to focus on growing and maintaining our membership by providing highly relevant and competitive financial products and outstanding customer service.”
The 3,600 members of one credit union included in the original proposal, NZCU Steelsands, decided to remain as an independent.
Taylor emphasises the service provided to member owners as being what sets credit unions apart. “We take a genuine interest in each and every member and their financial journey. The merged entity will ensure provision of this differentiator remains. It’s always been the credit union way.”
Taylor confirmed the interim CEO of the merged entity will be Gavin Earle, current CEO of NZCU Baywide.
“Gavin has been an instrumental figure within the credit union sector. He brings a wealth of experience and relationships at a critical time in our journey. The Board has every confidence in Gavin transitioning the four credit unions over the coming period and continuing the service it provides to its member owners, as well as supporting the credit union sector as a whole..”
Taylor reinforced his comments from last year. “Scale does matter in an increasingly competitive financial sector and we all believe our united approach will bring a competitive banking alternative that is 100% customer and Kiwi owned.
“The larger credit union will deliver efficiencies, and following a review, intended better pricing for member-owners. It will also result in greater reach across the combined nationwide branch network and online, more potential to invest in technology to further improve services and stronger capital for the benefit of member owners.
“I congratulate the memberships of these four credit unions for their confidence to unite and become a single, stronger entity. Whilst some have experienced challenging times recently, together we are positioned very well to deliver the future of our unique financial solutions for all New Zealanders.”
Taylor also confirmed there will initially be representation from the four credit unions at Board level to ensure continuity and importantly ‘a voice’ from the transferring entities.
With the voting now complete, under the Act which Credit Unions operate there is a compulsory six week stand down period, allowing for any objections to be lodged and addressed. The official transfer date is therefore proposed as 1 May 2019.
Interim CEO Gavin Earle reinforced the four entities common strategic focus and commitment to the co-operative principles.
“As cooperatives, we have all benefited from sharing insights and knowledge of our sector for many years. Last week’s membership voting has cemented our belief in the cooperative and credit union sector. I am personally very excited about harnessing the great things we have all been delivering. Like many, I am drawing inspiration from this to continue our collective growth path into the future.”
Credit Unions have been an important part of the financial services sector in New Zealand for over 50 years and are the original person-to-person financial service providers.
The merged credit union will combine services and specialise in NZ home loans, personal loans, savings and investments, everyday transaction accounts and insurance for vehicles, loan protection, funeral protection, home and contents.

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