Merger boosts Valleys credit unions - July 2020
PICTURED OUTSIDE SMART MONEY CYMRU's NEW BLACKWOOD BRANCH:
Front - Alun Taylor, Chair of Smart Money Cymru Credit Union; Back right - Todd Rawson, Chair of Islwyn Credit Union; Back left - Martin Price, Director, Islwyn CU and Smart Money Cymru CU
Two credit unions in the Welsh Valleys have merged to create an enhanced financial platform for their local members.
Smart Money Cymru which has branches in Caerphilly and Tredegar has joined forces with Islwyn Credit Union (ICU) in Blackwood in a move to stengthen the not-for-profit credit union movement and help members navigate these difficult financial times.
The 850 members of ICU will see a seamless change-over giving them a wider range of financial services to call on now that it has joined with the much larger credit union.
CEO of Smart Money Cymru (SMCCU), Mark White, said he was delighted that the merger was complete. "Members in Islwyn will now have more offices they can use, improved opening hours and a wider range of financial services at their fingertips" he said.
These include a phone-app for balance-checking, access to the Engage Current Account which supports direct debits, standing orders and processing of card payments as well as an online loan application and processing facility making affordable borrowing simpler.
The 6,000 members of the expanded credit union will be able to use all three branches in Blackwood, Caerphilly and Tredegar and benefit from all the services offered.
The two long-serving ICU staff in Blackwood will continue, while three of the founder Board members are set to retire after years of service to the community.
Smart Money Cymru recently celebrated 30 years in which time it has grown into a sophisticated organisation offering a wide range of financial services to individuals, businesses and charities.
"Credit unions offers a much wider range of financial services than many people expect" said Mr White. "The CU philosophy is to be financially sympathetic to its members and offer fair and reasonable access to finance and financial services where we can."
Mr White explained that credit unions had a flexible and collaborative approach to lending to their members, different to that of a high street bank. "We have a broader, more sympathetic policy which looks at the individual circumstances of potential borrowers. We don't base our lending decisions on credit ratings alone, but on a wider financial picture."
Credit union loans are at fair and reasonable rates and usually come with free protection insurance.
As a not-for-profit organisation, a credit union does not pay out its profis to third party sahreholders but returns them to its members.
Services to the local business community includes payroll saving for employees. In Wales, 140 companies take advantage of this scheme through the credit union network enabling their workforce to save regularly and to be able to apply for loans at the same time.
Credit unions can also help their members secure rental accommodation by providing a Bond Certificate to fulfil tenancy requirements.
"We are looking forward to offering an enhanced service to members in Islwyn and to continuing to serve other members throughout the area," added Mr White.