Credit Union Spotlight – Capital Credit Union

Introducing Capital Credit Union (CCU), the Credit Union providing award-winning, ethical financial services to the communities of East Scotland. Capital Credit Union was established in 1989 and currently serves up to 25,000 members, making it one of the largest Credit Unions in the UK. We caught up with the CEO of CCU, Marlene Shiels who gave us the latest on all things CCU and her views on the Credit Union sector moving forward.

How would you describe Capital Credit Union to someone not involved in the Credit Union sector?

We’re a passionate and award-winning community-owned bank with a volunteer board that prioritise members over profit. We’ve positioned ourselves at the heart of our East Scotland community and help people by getting them into the habit of saving or accessing affordable loans.

When you join Capital Credit Union you become a member, not a customer. Your membership gives you a vote in how things are done, and any profits are invested straight back into the Credit Union to keep interest rates on loans and savings competitive.

It’s been quite the year for Capital Credit Union – a Consumer Credit Award and an Engage Unsung Hero Award to top it off! What do you consider to be your highlights of 2021?

We have continued to serve our members throughout the pandemic. We’ve been able to provide a safe place for members to deposit excess funds and access affordable loans, especially when things were a lot tougher financially.

We are proud of new developments such as our financial wellbeing package and green loan. The latter being the first green loan offered by a credit union in Scotland – something we’re especially pleased about.

Being recognised for our service, innovation, and passion for serving our members has helped to remind us of what our ethos is all about, people helping people.

What do you consider to be the key components of your successes in 2021?

Our staff and Board have shown tremendous passion, resilience and dedication in 2021. Everyone has worked tirelessly to put our members first and support them through this challenging time. Helping our member’s build financial resilience is the cornerstone of our mission.

The ripple effect leads a happy member, who enjoys our ethical services, to spread the news with their loved ones – increasing our reach in the community and introducing more people to our credit union.

We’ve welcomed a lot of talented people to the staff and Board this year which has enabled us to follow our strong long-term strategy with drive and ambition.

What challenges did Capital Credit Union face and what silver linings did you take from the experience?

Not surprisingly, the main challenge we faced was the pandemic and the financial impact this had on our members like increased bills, reduced hours, and unemployment. However, knowing we were all in it together and living our purpose of people helping people actually strengthened our relationship with our members and helped us become better ‘listeners’ to learn how best we can serve their needs.

Any exciting developments or plans for Capital Credit Union this year that you would like to share?

2022 is shaping up to be an exciting year for us. We’re developing our new premises to be a great community hub.

Also, we’re continuing our digital transformation to deliver products and services that our members want and need, by investing in our people.

Re-energising our relationship with our key employer partners and helping them help their staff to build a great financial future is another development that we can’t wait to progress with.

What advice would you give to your members in 2022?

Set goals both financially and personally. The clearer your goals are the more likely you are to take the small steps towards achieving them.

Make a budget and stick to it. This can make a real difference to your financial well-being by giving you a tool to control and manage your expenses.

If you are struggling, reach out. There is always someone ready to listen, including us.

What Engage products and services could your members benefit from?

Engage offers products specifically designed for Credit Unions members that help them easily take control of their finances with access to funds online and on the high street. We also appreciate that Engage focuses on building financial awareness from a young age with the Engage Smartcash Junior Member account.

What changes in the Credit Union sector do you anticipate, and what advice would you give to other Credit Unions?

We see 2022 bringing about significantly more collaboration between credit unions. Working together means we will be able to work more effectively and efficiently. It can bring about great innovations that sometimes we don’t have the time to do on our own.

Mergers are also on the agenda for some credit unions. Mergers as a growth strategy are gaining momentum and rightly so. Scale matters.

We are hopeful that legislative reform will be delivered, and that HMT will enable credit unions to offer a wider range of products and services to members.  

We advise – think big, think bold and innovate. Work together for the benefit of all.

Thank you for those great insights, Marlene.

For further information on Capital Credit Union, their services and how you can become a member, visit their website here.

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