It would be a good idea for the banks to sit up and take notice of what’s happening around the country as people are gradually understanding the benefits of Credit Union membership and hedging their bets in many cases or, in a few, moving their accounts entirely over to their local Credit Union.
We recently had a regular saver of small amounts suddenly realise that our Credit Union had paid 1.5% in dividend on accessible savings last year when she was only getting 0.25% on her bank-based savings account and so she transferred her whole £10,000 to her Credit Union account. Her bank manager was startled and queried the decision and she quite enjoyed explaining her rationale.
Banks are in a quandary at the moment, struggling for profitability and failing to win back the public’s trust because they live in a world where top banking employees demand and get massive salaries and vast bonuses and they don’t know how to keep them unless they do the same. When they’re using the public’s bail-out money to fund these, it’s understandable that the public gets a bit miffed.
When members of the public start to realise that their local Credit Union can offer them a decent deal at the start of their relationship and increasingly great deals as time goes by, more and more of them are getting involved. Dividends tend to be better than most easy access savings accounts can offer because there are no fat-cat salaries to pay, no shareholders creaming off the top – all the surplus goes back to the members!
The service in most Credit Unions (often almost wholly run by volunteers) is friendly, patient, non-judgemental and completely personal to you. There are rules, of course, but Credit Unions will go out of their way to find a workable solution that meets your particular needs, without any extra charges, just because that’s what they do. If you just want to deal over the phone or, in increasing numbers of Credit Unions, online, that’s also an option. Why wouldn’t you use a Credit Union?
A bill is about to be passed which will allow for more expansion of Credit Union territory, the ability for Credit Unions to take deposits from organisations, not just individuals and a whole host of other options which will make Credit Unions even more attractive to wider audience from January 2012. If, in addition, a current government feasibility study has a positive outcome, there will be exponential growth in the Credit Union movement and everybody should soon have access to one, wherever they are in the UK and the underpinning technology will enable them to compete on a more level playing field for personal banking services.
So, banks, if you’re reading this, you need to buck up your ideas, your ethos and the way you treat you account-holders because we’re coming for your customers!
This is the personal view of Claire Walters (@WFCCUClaire) and not necessarily that of Waltham Forest Community Credit Union.
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