Credit Union Baywide announces review of branch network

Posted July 2020

Media release 31 July 2020

The country’s largest credit union has announced a branch network review today, alongside increased investment in its call centre and digital services to reflect the changing needs of its 60,000 member customers.

The result is the closure of 10 of its 31 branches and the creation of 34 opportunities for staff redeployment, mainly in the Contact Centre and Digital Services teams, and possibly more as the organisation explores all options to retain staff, including voluntary redundancies.

The announcement comes after consultation with the entire business, meetings and support for the affected people, and with Union representatives, over the last three weeks.

The branches to be closed are in Whangarei, Otara (with 3 other Credit Union Baywide branches remaining in Auckland), Hamilton, Opotiki, Te Puke, Wairoa, Taradale, Dannevirke, Masterton and Porirua. 

With redeployment still being discussed, the number of redundancies cannot be confirmed at this point.

Gavin Earle, CEO Credit Union Baywide, says the review has been underway since late 2019, following the merger of four credit unions, but was accelerated by Covid-19 and the rapid change in the way people are engaging with financial services:

“Our priority has been our colleagues affected by this news and wherever possible we are doing everything to redeploy people to other roles and support others in whatever way we can.  There’s been a lot of discussion and understanding but this change has obviously been especially difficult for some.  

“Looking ahead we have an obligation to our wider membership to continue to develop a modern and competitive alternative to mainstream banking in New Zealand and deliver a service in a way that meet their evolving needs, whether by phone, digital or physically in a branch.

“Credit Unions have played a vital role in New Zealand financial services for over 50 years and are the original person-to-person financial services provider.  Our commitment is to continue to invest, evolve, adapt, be innovative and provide an ever-improving high quality and valued service.”

The merger in 2019 created a credit union with $509m of assets, serving 60,000 members. The review of its operations included detailed analysis of branch activity, showing most of the ten identified sites averaging just 4-10 visits a day.  The structure of the administrative offices in Auckland, Hastings and Rotorua was also part of the review.

“Our research confirmed the wider changes in how banking services are being accessed overall in New Zealand, such as lower levels of walk-in visits by customers.  For us, at the same time we’ve had a 17% increase in call centre and digital services being provided in the past few months,” Gavin Earle continues.

“From a business perspective single digit visits per day at any branch is not sustainable. We need to invest to improve other more relevant services and offer jobs where they are needed the most.”

Compared to other New Zealand customer owned financial service providers, Credit Union Baywide’s ratio of 31 branches on a total asset base of $509 million is high.  SBS Bank now has 15 branches (total assets $2.5 billion) and The Cooperative Bank has ~30 branches (total assets $2.9 billion).

The continued commitment to physical branches is balanced with call centre and digital service investment and builds on the credit union’s multi-million dollar investment in a new modern Core Banking Platform in 2018. 

In June this year, Credit Union Baywide launched a new mobile banking app and is further developing internet banking and electronic on-boarding initiatives.  This is continuing to enhance its digital infrastructure and serve its members in both urban and rural areas, across the country. 

“This review is another step in our long term development,” Gavin Earle says.  “Our business remains strong and while we’ve been impacted by the pandemic like everyone else, we note that we did not qualify for the Government’s wage subsidy scheme.

“There has been some effect on profitability in the short term, but our long term focus is to innovate constantly and invest in the right services to meet the demands and needs of today’s and tomorrow’s members.  This means better digital services, together with a sustainable branch presence to serve the customer face-to-face wherever it meets our overall objectives.”

Credit Union Baywide is 100% NZ owned and operates as a not for profit and is a much needed alternative to overseas owned banks. 

Credit Union Baywide specialises in NZ home loans, personal loans, savings and investments, everyday transaction accounts and insurance for vehicles, loan protection, funeral protection, home and contents.

ENDS

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

Please contact Credit Union Baywide GM Sales, Marketing and Channels:

Andrew Quayle - 027 501 5112  

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