Northern Enterprise Awards 2020

27 | Northern Enterprise Awards 2020 Oct20666 Credit Union Trade Association of the Year – UK & Customer Service Excellence Award 2020 Comprising 178 credit unions in its membership portfolio that expands across Scotland, England and Wales, ABCUL is the leading trade association for the credit union sector across Great Britain. Run and governed by volunteer directors, ABCUL is a ‘cooperative of cooperatives’ which works together towards its vision to make credit unions the primary source of affordable, high quality and ethical financial services for the Great British population. ABCUL seeks to make the credit union sector vibrant, ensuring that the legislative and regulatory environment is enabling and proportionate. Representing its members to governments, policymakers and the media, ABCUL’s comprehensive services also serve to help credit unions grow and develop. “The main services that ABCUL provide are legislative and regulatory lobbying, training and education, thought leadership, member engagement and peer to peer activity, representation, liaison with stakeholders, the development of the credit union brand across Britain and the overall promotion of the sector,” CEO Robert Kelly says. Driven by the same collaboration and cooperative values that the organisation was built on, ABCUL’s mission is be the principal, democratically governed representative body of the credit union movement in Great Britain and to provide credit unions with the leadership, services and assistance they require. At the heart of this core mission is a commitment to excellent member service, ensuring that they have the space and opportunities needed to grow and develop. Combining the devotion to going above and beyond for their clients with innovation, ABCUL is well on its way to becoming the pre-eminent trade association for credit unions in the main cooperative region of Manchester. Being based in this major city of the North establishes connections with other stakeholders such as The Co-operative Group, Co-operatives UK and other relevant organisations. Indeed, Manchester is a historical hub for cooperatives, thanks to the establishment of the Rochdale Pioneers, the first cooperative society in the UK in 1844. According to Robert, this historic establishment provided the foundations on which ABCUL and its members could develop today. “Manchester also presents a strong logistical link to the balance of our member credit unions across Great Britain and is commonly used as a network hub for face to face learning and development before the impact of COVID-19,” says Robert. For example, in 2019, ABCUL led a Town Hall meeting to encourage a productive discussion with its member credit unions, other trade associations and relevant stakeholders about the future vision for the credit union sector in Britain over the next five years. In March 2020, the result of this conversation was launched as a Vision 2025 Strategy document which sets out the clear priorities under four different themes - Collaboration, Purpose, Relevance and Sustainability. “ABCUL’s core strategic objective is to deliver on that vision and deliver legislative reform which will allow product and service innovation across the sector,” says Robert. Until that point at which organisations are once again able to meet face to face safely, ABCUL is continuing to serve its members via digital platforms. Covid-19 has caused a drop in lending demand and income in the industry owing to the uncertainty facing the economy in general. Credit unions all across the country are having to review their operations and resilience in the changeable economy. In Greater Manchester and the surrounding areas, credit unions are doing what they can to keep the industry thriving, in particular combining forces to offer vital credit facilities to residents in the Greater Manchester area which is also facilitating the other collective activity to protect local residents from the detrimental impacts of COVID-19 and continual lockdowns. Rob tells us that, “ABCUL will continue to support member credit unions across the country and in the North to ensure customer engagement is high and the credit union sector is seen as providing a consistent lifeline to consumers.” The sense of teamwork and concern for ABCUL’s member credit unions continues to be as strong as ever. Despite the adversities facing the UK economy, ABCUL is staying true to its core mission to serve its members to the best of its ability so that they can each grow and develop to become superior financial services providers. Company: ABCUL Contact: Robert Kelly Web Address: ABCUL (the Association of British Credit Unions Limited) is a leading trade association for credit unions that acts as a cooperative of cooperatives in Britain. Providing a comprehensive range of information, training and services, ABCUL represents credit unions to governments, policymakers and the media, whilst also helping the unions within the association to develop and grow as sustainable financial services providers. CEO Robert Kelly tells us more.