The head of a local, customer-owned financial institution said another strong set of annual results shows people are responding to alternatives to the Big 4 to meet their banking needs.
Hunter United’s 2017/18 results were tabled at its recent AGM.
CEO Tim Blomfield said lending and deposits for the Hunter based mutual are up again due to locals switching from the big banks. In the last financial year, total lending assets rose by 8 per cent while deposits grew by 9 per cent. Total assets also grew by 9 per cent to almost $330m. He said with capital adequacy above 16 per cent, the credit union remains safe and secure.
This growth has delivered a 27 per cent increase in net profit to $536,000.
Tim said because Hunter United doesn’t have shareholders, those profits will continue to be reinvested to benefit members.
Last financial year’s reinvestment saw the introduction of a new branch format for Hunter United in the Stockland Greenhills Shopping Centre, which included a self-serve teller infinity machine, the first of its kind in the region.
Other reinvestment in technology puts Hunter United ahead of some larger financial institutions. It joined the New Payments Platform (NPP) during the year, enabling it to offer real time payments to its members via Osko and PayID.
He said Hunter United is emerging as an innovator in digital banking and marketing despite not having the budgets of other local lenders and the big banks.
“Online loan enquiries and social media engagement with members continues to rise,” Tim said.
“We have 30 per cent of members interacting with us on social media, a figure well above the big banks and other local financial institutions.”
While technology plays an important role in banking to meet customer’s changing needs, Tim said it is Hunter United’s local staff who provide its biggest point of difference.
“Last year we invested more into staff development, with a third of all staff involved in externally recognised training programs,” Tim said.
“Hunter United is a Hunter-based business and is focused on serving local people. Customer experience is central to all our interactions, not a platitude. We exist to serve our members and that’s why they’re so loyal to us.”
The proportion of Hunter-based customers rose again this year and they now account for more than 90 per cent of members.
He said the Royal Commission has helped Hunter United by shining a spotlight on some of the poor behaviour by larger financial institutions.
Looking ahead, Tim said further digital improvements will be rolled out including a website upgrade and a new online portal for members to manage account activity.
The phase out of its own ATMs will continue except for its drive thru ATM at Broadmeadow.
“Hunter United continues to be there for the local community through support of Newcastle Industrial Heritage Association, Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation, Newcastle Pink Ribbon Ride, Lambton Park Christmas Carols, Cystic Fibrosis, Jeans for Genes, Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea and the Cancer Council.”
IMAGE | Hunter United’s new Green Hills branch.
Hunter United provides customer owned banking solutions designed for every stage of life to around 9,000 members.
Their Newcastle and Hunter based team serve members with value for money products through six Hunter branches, mobile banking, and a 3,000 strong national ATM network.
Hunter United’s origins are in the BHP steelworks. They opened more than 50 years ago and while their business continues to grow, their focus remains the same. You.
They aren’t driven by the need to generate dividends for shareholders. They are customer-owned and exist for the benefit of your community.