Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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ECU president tells co-operatives: Modernise to protect clients
Gloria Rolingson, president of Eastern Credit Union (ECU) has urged co-operatives to protect their client base by modernising their operations. She said just one year ago, ECU became the first credit union in the region to have a credit rating. This year, it is celebrating another milestone—becoming the first in the sector to operate independent internet and mobile banking operations. “We were the first credit union to build and operate a multi-purpose sporting and residential and artisan complex at La Joya, the first to have a branch network of ten branches, the first to provide ATM network service and ATM card which we have branded the Sprint card, the first to become part of the commercial bank dominated Linx network,” she said. “All of these services and facilities continue to be afforded to our members as credible endorsements of our tagline–Leading the Way.”
Rolingson added: “Being first does not just happen by magic. It takes the vision, the determination and the courage to venture into new areas and to chart a new course and to undertake, however conservatively, some degree of risk. “We are encouraged by the returns and levels of satisfaction, but we are equally aware that we still have members who want more than we are offering at present and are, therefore, constantly striving to find creative and innovative ways to meet the growing and changing needs of our membership.” According to Rolingson, 41 years after ECU was launched as a closed bond financial co-operative based at the Bermudez Biscuit Factory, it had emerged as the forerunner within the credit union movement by seeking out opportunities to improve the welfare, wealth and well-being of its members.
She recalled that several years ago, ECU introduced AAD loans a feature where customers could apply for loans through the institution’s call centre. “But this was not enough! Certainly not, since the dawn of the 21st century as people,” she said. “Our entry into the online and mobile banking arena is our latest initiative designed to cater for those needs. By this time next year, we aim to launch yet another first as we are aggressively moving forward with plans to enable more members with the opportunity to have a place owned by them to call home. I will say no more on this for the time being.” Rolingson added: “What I will say is that we elected officials, as well the members of the executive management team of ECU, are committed to improving the lives of our members.
“The theme of our three-year strategic plan 2014-2016 is ‘Members Matter Most’ and it is this theme that stimulates the constant search for new and creative ways of meeting our members’ needs and responding to the aggressive competition we face from the institutions. “The credit union movement continues to show its resilience, especially in responding to the needs of the unbanked and underserved. “We want credit unions to continue to exist because in the very recent past when all the global institutions were reeling from the financial meltdown, it was credit unions that remained intact and continued to shield our members from the trauma of losing their assets virtually overnight.”