As a new year begins of what promises to be filled with opportunities and challenges alike, ABCUL CEO, Robert Kelly reflects on what was a hugely positive 2021 for ABCUL and its member credit unions across the country.
“In the past year we have engaged directly with political figures across Great Britain, notably to those in Scottish Parliament and the Senedd with the distribution of our Scottish and Welsh Politicians' Guides to Credit Unions ahead of the devolved elections. We have also now published a further Politician’s guide for England.
“The main discussions points with politician's include progress on legislative reform, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector, capitalising credit union growth, the role of credit unions in workplaces and the challenges of technology for our sector.
“Since launching our Vision 2025 Strategy document in March 2020, the ABCUL staff team has worked tirelessly to support our member base in navigating the diverse challenges of the pandemic and being front and centre around continuing to deliver a fantastic membership service experience at the same time. Throughout these challenging times though, the Vision 2025 Strategy is moving ahead at pace, and we are delivering on a range of commitments made in 2020.
“As part of ABCUL’s Vision 2025 Strategy, the Association committed to exploring the potential for a more strategic approach to mergers/transfer of engagements to develop the sustainability, relevance, and purpose of the credit union sector in Great Britain. To this end ABCUL set up its Strategic Merger Taskforce (SMT), a group that met throughout 2021 to explore the role and context of strategic mergers in the British credit union sector. The Taskforce shared its findings through a white paper report at the end of November 2021 to member credit unions and external stakeholders from across the country, following a very thorough and effective consultation process.
“There will be ongoing work to support this agenda, with ABCUL planning to support its members with adopting a strategic approach to mergers, conducting long-term strategic planning, and finding suitable merger partners where appropriate. We will also be engaging with key stakeholders on how they can support strategic mergers in the sector. This will be an ongoing priority in 2022.
“The Association was also delighted to announce the launch of an innovative paid-for compliance service in the summer of 2021, tailored for the credit union sector, which will provide member credit unions with the knowledge, tools, and frameworks to enable them to implement and maintain a more robust compliance culture.
“Finally, it was also very pleasing to take ownership of the Prize Linked Savings product to build on the success of the initial pilot launched in 2019 by HM Treasury. The product has increased membership for a range of credit unions, supported the agenda around safe savings and building financial resilience. Over £120,000 in prizes has been distributed to winners among the 16 ABCUL member credit unions that are currently part of the scheme. It has been great to see the successful interaction and collaboration between the participating credit unions, and we look forward to developing this product and initiative in 2022 and beyond."
In the coming 12 months, our key priority is the agenda surrounding legislative reform and ensuring changes are implemented which will give the credit union sector a more enabling legislative framework allowing product and service innovation. We remain in regular dialogue with HM Treasury officials, the PRA and the FCA around developing the timetable and detail of the final reform measures. We will also strive to continue to deliver more fully around our Vision 2025 Strategy commitments. You can view a short video which highlights the main successes from the past year.
“We look forward to 2022 with great hope and aspiration for our member credit unions across the country and for the development of the overall sector in Great Britain. Your ABCUL team will continue to work tirelessly to serve as effectively and co-operatively as we can – that is our unstinting commitment. Happy New Year 2022”