Cork Credit Unions the existing/ stronger/ stalwart alternative

Recent press coverage has shown the national financial system is in a state of disarray with banks leaving the market and others closing offices throughout the country. People’s confidence in the Irish banking system has been rocked and they are beginning to look at their options. Credit unions in Ireland are rooted in the communities they serve and provide members with a credible alternative. All Irish credit unions are member-owned with each member getting a voice in how the credit union is run. As credit unions are not for profit, rates and fees are designed to reinvest directly in services to their members, not to line the pockets of outside investors.

An increasing number of Cork Credit Unions now offer their members mortgages, current accounts, agricultural loans, Business Loans, online banking, and much more. The introduction of mortgages by credit unions was seen as a major step but there are restrictions there that restrict credit unions’ capacity to partake fully in the Irish market.

Surely it is time for a local, welcoming institution not powered by short term profit but by its members long term interests. This institution is not only committed to its members but practices an ethos that’s makes people a priority while putting its profits back into improving its services and the local community.

Credit unions have remained open throughout the COVID 19 pandemic as an essential service, supporting the communities they serve. In many cases going above and beyond to guarantee that people’s and communities financial needs are met. Cork credit unions ensure that communities are financially backed and have the room to be entrepreneurial, to innovate, and to spend within their local economies. As of the financial year-end September 2020, the total loans outstanding is for Cork Credit Unions was €651 Million. The vast majority of this is spent within Cork communities. The group has even more available to lend, with a total of € 1.2bn there for Cork. There is room for Cork’s credit unions to do even more.

Credit unions are continuing to develop their range of services and with the right regulatory reform can further meet people’s financial needs. There has been much discussion and deliberation on credit unions, it has translated into minimal policy changes, very few of which are sufficiently forward-thinking to enable credit unions to develop in the manner many credit unions now wish to do. Legislation must be underpinned by the need to unlock the full potential of credit unions in the delivery of services and facilities that meet member needs.

Thankfully, we have representatives in government who see the potential of Credit Unions. A key part of this is to fill a void now left in Irish mortgage market. Michael Creed (TD) was recently stated;

“I believe our credit unions are a sleeping giant with the potential to overhaul the Irish mortgage market. With 326 branches and 3.6 million members across the country, Ireland has one of the highest numbers of credit union members per head of population. Yet there is untapped potential. There is a total of circa €14.8bn savings in our credit unions, but just circa €4.9 bn in loans.”

Deputy Creed pointed out that integrating credit unions into the mortgage market could also allow a community banking sector to flourish.

The services that Cork Credit Unions offer are all provided by real people in over 30 plus offices serving every inch of Cork. Services are provided to an award-winning level thanks to dedicated staff and from members who value the credit union difference. Credit Unions celebrated their sixth year at No. 1 which is a phenomenal achievement, particularly as they have widened the gap in scores between themselves and the second-placed brand. A key factor is their relentless focus on understanding what matters most to members and being able to deliver it in the experiences they give them. This is a global first and a testament to the person-focused approach that credit unions take to their services.

From supporting local businesses, to launching local sustainability projects, and giving communities financial support – Cork credit unions are doing what they do best – helping people.

Cork Credit Unions are a county-wide initiative among the many credit unions in Cork. Combining their resources to work as one in a number of areas. Cork Credit Unions have come together to establish stronger relationships with Cork focused initiatives, one such initiative is the sponsorship of Cork City FC’s Academy. As co-operatives, they share the same ethos as the members of Cork City FC, helping to make this partnership such a great fit.

Alongside major collective sponsorships such as Cork City FC, individual credit unions make numerous contributions in each of their communities. From supporting local community groups to their local GAA teams, Cork credit unions are always community focused because we are the people we serve.

Gary Hanrahan committee member of the Cork Credit Union Group had this to say “Cork Credit Unions are member-owned, not for profit financial co-operatives that will be there for the people of Cork always. Credit unions have been there for people since the very beginning providing access to finance. Your credit union has never been this connected to members or offered as many services.”