‘Word of mouth’ key to credit union’s success

Bute and Cowal Credit Union Ltd officials Brian Balmain, Kim Findlay, Janet O'Sullivan and Michael Boyce.
Bute and Cowal Credit Union Ltd officials Brian Balmain, Kim Findlay, Janet O'Sullivan and Michael Boyce.

The president of the Bute and Cowal Credit Union says word of mouth is the chief reason for the organisation’s continued growth.

Janet O’Sullivan spoke to The Buteman after the organisation’s AGM - at which she reported an 11 per cent year-on-year increase in the credit union’s membership.

A total of 418 people - 357 in Rothesay and 61 in Dunoon - were members of BCCU Ltd at the end of September 2015, compared to 376 12 months previously.

That number has since shown a further slight increase to 421 at the end of January, and includes 12 junior members throughout the area.

Mrs O’Sullivan said: “In many respects the best publicity is word of mouth - members telling their friends and family ‘they’ve been really good for me, why don’t you join?’.

“It’s good to see how much the movement in general has been in the media in the last 12-18 months, and how more and more people are saying ‘you’re the alternative to payday loans’.

“Part of our growth must be down to the wider financial climate. And a credit union is a more planned approach to life than payday loans or the banks.

“We ask members to show us evidence they can save before we’ll agree to give them a loan. And all our loans are based on people saving with the credit union - if we’re lending money we have to have someone paying it in.”

Mrs O’Sullivan also said BCCU had chosen not to set up an online account management system for members because of the costs involved.

“We’re being urged by our trade body to make ourselves 21st-century,” she said, “and we are getting there.

“We did look into it but it’s prohibitively expensive at this stage. And nobody wants a half-hearted system that’s going to leave everybody exposed.”