As chairperson of Bruff Credit Union, it gives me great pleasure to provide an introduction to the updated version of this important document. The credit union was established 44 years ago and has been an important part of the Bruff community since that time. The credit union has made a difference to local people’s lives during that time.
Everything is changing all around us. The banking system has changed so much over the last few years. We can see this in our local Bank of Ireland branch here in Bruff, which appears to no longer cater for the local person anymore with drastically reduced services. This is a great opportunity for our credit union to thrive in the current stabilised economic climate. We must be able to bring better services to our members and with this updated strategic plan, this is what we hope to achieve. We now have new structures in place to allow us continue to develop and improve our services for our members.
We believe our progress made with social media (i.e. facebook) has been successful. The introduction of our website (which should be developed within the next 12 months) will help us with the challenges ahead. We realise that we need to target the younger generation in our community and these tools are necessary to do this.
The credit union operated successfully during the recent recession and it appears that the economy has stabilised and possibly returned to growth. This should provide the credit union with the opportunity to grow its loan book during the coming years. However we have learnt our lessons from the recession and have made significant improvements in our loan underwriting which should result “safe and secure” loan growth.
During the past year, we have realised the importance of marketing the credit union and localised marketing forms a significant part of this updated strategic plan.
We are delighted with the progress made this year in recruiting new volunteers. These volunteers are already participating in vital roles within our credit union. This is an area we will continue to pursue and we will encourage more volunteers to join our community based organisation and provide them with the necessary training. Annual training programmes for all volunteers have now become a significant part of the credit union’s operations.
The regulatory requirements which have to be adhered to by the credit union have increased dramatically in recent years, especially following the introduction of the Credit Union Act 2012. As a result, the credit union now has a “paid” manager and compliance officer in addition to the existing teller. The organisational structure of the credit union has been expanded to include an-in-house risk management officer and a compliance officer, an outsourced internal audit function and a risk & audit committee. Also the “fitness and probity” regime became applicable to this credit union from 1st August 2015. The increased regulatory requirements have and will continue to challenge the credit union and its officers, however we believe that we are in a position to successfully meet these challenges.
Also we recognise that there will be challenges ahead that our members will face. With this plan, we believe we will be able to co-ordinate the efforts of all members of our team, to ensure that we continue to improve our support service to all members of the credit union’s community.
Due to increased regulations and increased costs (including the costs of compliance with the increased regulation), a number of credit unions have amalgamated in recent months and there are more envisaged in the coming months. It is the current opinion of the Board of Directors and management that this credit union should continue as an independent credit union for at the foreseeable future. We believe that our members are best served by having a “local” credit union. Bruff credit union is for all members of our common bond. We have made significant improvements (especially in the last 12 months) as regards general governance, the management and staffing structure, daily operations, policies, risk and compliance. We have more improvements to make (a lot of work done but more to do). Thus once these improvements are completed, we are confident we will have a governance and operating structure which will ensure on-going and continuing compliance with all regulatory requirements and best practise. We recently updated our 3 year financial projections and these financial projections show that we will remain viable for at least the next three years. However we also realise that we may have to consider amalgamating in the future, especially if the growth in our loan book is not in line with the financial projections and/or the costs of running the credit union as a standalone credit union increase to an unsustainable level and/or if we cannot maintain the necessary functions required to ensure compliance with the CU Act and/or if we cannot maintain our existing volunteers and recruit new volunteers with the relevant required skills. The board of directors will review the situation every 6 months and regardless, we intend to develop a stronger relationship with our neighbouring credit unions. This matter will be specifically discussed with the members at any future AGMs and members will be kept informed at all times.
Finally, as ever, I would like to thank my fellow Board members, BOC members, staff, committees and volunteers for their outstanding work within Bruff Credit Union and look forward to their continued commitment in delivering on all aspects of this updated strategic plan which will provide our roadmap for the future.
On behalf of the Board of Directors,