A Welsh credit union continues to excel after an outstanding performance over the past 12 months.
Around this time, Smart Money Cymru, with offices in Caerphilly, Blackwood and Tredegar, saw a huge increase in the amount of loans to members and a corresponding increase in income.
CEO Mark White attributes the success to the lockdown period when the management team undertook a thorough analysis of the organization and launched a major modernization plan. “The changes we’ve made are paying off and allowing us to lend more to members, some of whom may struggle to find fair financing elsewhere,” he said. “This is crucial as we see the cost of fuel and food rising and household budgets under pressure.”
“Also interesting to note is that we have seen a strong increase in membership as more and more people in the area we serve are learning how we can help them and improve their daily lives.”
According to him, the growth in the number of members is partly due to the launch of Smart Goods last year. “We have become the first credit union in Wales to offer our members an online catalog of over 5000 household products such as fridges and televisions from one trusted supplier. It proved to be very popular and many new members joined to take advantage of the service.
The strength of Smart Money Cymru’s performance can be seen against a mixed backdrop of modest advances for credit unions (CUs) in Wales and across the UK during this period.
The latest statistics from the Bank of England show UC Wales increased lending by 3.79% (UK 7.34%) while Smart Money Cymru saw an increase in lending of 48.53%. %. Smart Money Cymru’s revenue grew by 47.39%, compared to 7.28% in Wales and just 0.79% in the UK.
Smart Money Cymru member savings increased by 9.48%, in line with UK trends, but more than double the figure for Welsh credit unions.
“It goes without saying that the last two years have been very difficult for financial institutions and their customers. We decided to use the period of confinement to take a long look at what we were doing and how we were doing it, and to reflect on what our customers really wanted from us.
First, it became clear that Smart Money Cymru needed to be proactive and communicate with its members, as well as the wider community. “We have a strong presence on the ground with offices in Caerphilly, Blackwood and Tredegar, and we are working hard to reach out to the locality,” Mr White said.
In support of this approach, the credit union rebranded itself as Smart Money Cymru Community Bank, to better reflect the changing role in providing fair finance.
Customer service is a priority and staff in all departments benefit from regular training.
Smart Money Cymru has also updated its technology and streamlined the loan application process, so that applications can be made from home or in the office with the assistance of Smart Money Cymru staff.
“We have served the community for more than 30 years, and as times change, we are determined to change with them and become the sophisticated and flexible organization our members deserve,” Mr. White added.
Many financial institutions quickly become automated and impersonal, but Smart Money Cymru prefers to go in the opposite direction. “We don’t have a ‘tick box’ mentality based on credit score alone, but look at the bigger picture when making lending decisions,” he said.
“Above all, the last twelve months show that our recent initiatives are bringing more members into our fold, and we are able to extend more loans to them on fair and equitable terms to help them and their families prosper.