Monday, 12 December 2016

Irish League of Credit Union Reports Strong 2016 Year-End Figures.

The Irish League of Credit Unions recently released very positive 2016 year-end figures, showing that demand for loans is increasing steadily across all affiliated credit unions. Loans are up by a significant €216 million (6.1%) in the Republic of Ireland, with 192 credit unions growing their loan books. Lending has now been on the rise for five out of the last six quarters.

In Northern Ireland, loans are up by over 3%, with 72% of credit unions reporting a growth in their loan books. Lending has now been on the rise in Northern Ireland for four consecutive years, and has grown by 11% in total since late 2012.

This healthy upward trend in lending is hugely encouraging. Credit unions have been very proactive in growing their loan books over the past year, and this has been demonstrated by the fact that the vast majority are now reporting lending increases. The figures are reflective of a movement that continues to grow and strengthen, while confidence continues to be expressed by the steady growth in membership, which has now reached almost 3.5 million.

We have also continued to have strong asset growth in 2016. Assets grew by over 7% in the Republic, and now stand at slightly over €14 billion – up almost €1 billion. In Northern Ireland, assets have been increasing for six consecutive years and were up by 6% in 2016 to over £1.3 billion.

Savings increased by 7%, to now stand at €12 billion in the Republic, while savings were also up by 7% in Northern Ireland and are now at over £1.1 billion.
Arrears have hit a ten year low in the Republic and are now back at September 2006 levels following a 27% fall in 2016. In Northern Ireland, arrears have fell by 6% and have now been falling for three consecutive years.

The 2016 results once again show that the credit union movement is very well capitalised. Capital reserves increased by 8.4% and now stand at €2.3 billion in the Republic, while in Northern Ireland, capital reserves increased by £11 million (6%) and are now at £184 million.

While we did have some regrettable news in 2016 with the liquidation of Rush Credit Union, it is clear from these year-end figures that overall the movement is strong and extremely well capitalised, while confidence continues to be expressed by our growing membership.

It is important also to put what happened at Rush Credit Union in context; this was an extremely rare occurrence. The Central Bank has stated that the situation there was at the extreme end of the scale, and that there are no other cases like it. And I would reiterate these comments. We are going into 2017 from a very positive position and will continue to succeed because we continue to change to meet members’ needs.

Friday, 18 November 2016

25,000 children set to take part in 26th annual All Ireland Credit Union Schools Quiz

Credit unions across Ireland are preparing to stage the 2017 All Ireland Credit Union Schools Quiz for the 26th year. 25,000 school children from north and south are taking part in the quiz, which culminates with 100 teams battling it out at the always exciting national finals at the RDS in Dublin. 

The All Ireland Schools Quiz has been one of the most popular and successful promotions undertaken by the credit union movement over the past number of years. Every year, volunteers from more than 300 credit unions run the event. We have an overwhelming response from schools to our annual quiz each year and participation rates again this year are extremely strong.

A core focus and aim of our national quiz is to encourage learning in a teamwork setting for school children. The quiz is an enjoyable and fun event that nurtures an environment of collaboration among our school children. The national final is a great way to show children the importance of teamwork in achieving success. 

This year, there is a fantastic prize fund of €4,000 for winning schools at national level, while local and regional winners will also receive a range of prizes. The quiz is divided into two sections; Competition A for children up to 11 years and Competition B for children between 11 and 13 years. The winning teams at the national finals will receive €1,250 per school, with the runner up teams in each category receiving €750 for their schools. 

Two knock-out stages will take place at local and regional level with the first round taking place the final weekend in January, and the second stage taking place in early March. Popular television and radio personality Aidan Power is taking up the mantle as this year’s Quiz Master for the grand finals on Sunday April 2nd at the RDS.

Registration for the 2017 Schools Quiz is now open and I would encourage all schools and children interested in participating to ask about registering at their local credit union.

I would like to commend all the credit unions that put so much time and effort into organising the quiz at local and regional level. I would also like to wish all schools taking part the very best of luck. I once again look forward to meeting the finalists at the RDS in April.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016


For the second successive year, credit unions have scooped top spot in the CXi Customer Experience Survey 2016, a study which measures the level of service which organisations across the country give to their customers. Scoring very highly on empathy, personalisation and integrity, credit unions led the way, followed by Lush Handmade Cosmetics in 2nd position and An Post in 3rd place.

The 2016 CXi survey was conducted in June 2016 by Amárach Research. A representative cross section of Irish consumers were asked to select from 170 brands across ten sectors. Over 42,000 customer experiences were evaluated as part of the study. The report aims to raise the game of customer experience management in Ireland, to establish a league table by which companies can benchmark their progress in this area and to measure how customer experience in Ireland compares internationally.

This result is testament to the hard work of credit union staff and volunteers who continue to put members’ needs at the forefront of everything that they do. A key difference is that members are co-owners of their credit union and credit union personnel take huge pride in the quality of service which they provide. They work hard to understand members’ needs and do everything that they can to deliver superior service.

Credit unions are deeply embedded in the communities which they serve. While other financial institutions are closing branches and directing their customers, in many instances, to use automated services, credit unions continue to excel in personalisation. This means that credit union personnel take time to recognise members’ individual needs and circumstances and can tailor their approach to meet the actual rather than a perceived need of the member.

Credit unions continue to develop both the range of services which they offer and the channels they use to deliver those services.  With this in mind, there should be absolute clarity that the needs of members will drive these development. And above all else, it is recognised that the quality of service provided to members, via whichever channel, must continue to be of the highest order.