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Credit unions in the political spotlight

29 August 2014


Credit unions in the political spotlight

Dirty politics was put aside last night as senior politicians outlined their universal support for growing the cooperatively owned credit union and mutual building society sector in New Zealand.

The political panel event was hosted at The Langham Hotel, Auckland, by the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions (NZACU), the national body that represents credit unions and mutual building societies, and was attended by over 150 financial services industry business people.

Facilitated by leading political and economic commentator, Bernard Hickey, the political panel featured Minister of Commerce, the Hon Craig Foss; New Zealand First Leader, the Rt Hon Winston Peters; ACT party Leader Jamie Whyte; the Hon David Parker, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, and Green Party List MP David Clendon.

The question posed to the politicians was ‘How should Government encourage the local co-op and community owned banking sector to have a stronger role in New Zealand society and the economy?’

“It was very reassuring to hear there is increased understanding and support from politicians around the importance of growing the locally owned cooperative credit union and mutual building society sector” said NZACU Chief Executive, Henry Lynch.

“The recent changes announced by the Hon Craig Foss to the Friendly Societies and Credit Unions Act 1982 were acknowledged by all parties as a positive step in the right direction to reduce cumbersome compliance constraints on our Members” Mr Lynch said.

“We believe the removal of the additional commercial trustee layer for our Members under the current Non-Bank Deposit Takers (NBDT) prudential supervision regime is the next logical step in reducing unnecessary compliance costs” said Mr Lynch.

“This issue was highlighted under the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s recent review of the NBDT sector and we eagerly await the Minister of Finance’s decision on the matter.”

Cooperatively owned and operated by their members for their members, credit unions and mutual building societies provide a wide range of financial services, like savings accounts, loans and insurance, and have a long history of helping people from all walks of life sort out their money

worries and achieve better financial management.

“Credit unions and building societies provide a very important service in their local communities, and we hope the Government, however that is structured post-election, will continue to look at ways to help grow the sector.”

New Zealand Association of Credit Unions (NZACU):

Credit unions and mutual building societies are co-operatively owned financial service providers, providing their members with a similar range of services to a bank. Credit unions and building societies are all independently owned and operated by their members for their members, and any profits are returned to the members in a combination of ways i.e. fairer fees, interest rates and community involvement.

NZACU is the industry association for credit unions and building societies (www.nzacu.org.nz) and exists to represent, promote and support its 22 Member credit unions and building societies, providing cost-effective business services.

NZACU's members employ over 550 staff, represent 200,000+ members, with more than 90 branches, assets of over $1.4 billion and collectively are the sixth largest financial transactor by volume in New Zealand. NZACU also wholly own Credit Union Insurance Ltd (www.cui.co.nz), a fully licensed insurance provider, under the Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act 2010, with over 67,000 lives covered.

The NZACU is a member of global trade association WOCCU, the World Council of Credit Unions, which

represents over 208 million people in 103 countries across the globe. This international network operates under the vision:

“Improving people's lives through credit unions” and promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial co-operatives around the world.

The NZACU is also a member of Cooperative Business New Zealand (www.nz.coop), the industry body whose mission is “bringing together the country’s cooperative and mutual businesses to promote, encourage and support the co-operative and mutual business model, and act as the advocate for those engaged in co-operatives and mutuals.”

Collectively the mutual banking sector, including mutual banks, building societies and credit unions, represent more than $600 million in revenue per year with a number of these organisations among Cooperative Business New Zealand’s “Top 40” co-operative and mutual businesses (by revenue) and NZACU is ranked at number 28


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