End of the Year Review 2016: Credit Unions and Finance

CO-OP BANK… January: Former Bank executives banned from finance roles Two former executives of the Co-operative Bank have been barred for life from holding banking positions of significant influence....


January: Former Bank executives banned from finance roles
Two former executives of the Co-operative Bank have been barred for life from holding banking positions of significant influence. The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) has banned former chief executive Barry Tootell and former managing director Keith Alderson for breaches related to the running of the bank, at a time when it was still a subsidiary of the Co-operative Group.

March: Save our Bank launches Customer Union for Ethical Banking
Co-op Bank customers involved in the Save Our Bank campaign set up a Customer Union for Ethical Banking as a co-operative society. The union will also seek to make sure the Bank’s ethical policy is implemented and look at how staff and customers are treated.

April: Co-op Bank reports pre-tax loss of £611m 
The Co-operative Bank announced annual losses of £610.6m before tax for the year ending 31 December 2015 – more than double the previous year’s loss of £264m. In its annual report, posted on 1 April, the bank says the loss was “expected” and that it reflectes “issues of the past”.

June: Co-operative Bank releases values and ethics report
The Co-operative Bank published its latest values and ethics report, focusing on the year 2015. The Bank had a total community investment of £1.4m and also committed £92m to business and commercial lending, up from £58m in 2014. The Bank is now a living wage employer and in 2015 its staff volunteered 4,352 hours in their local communities.

August: Co-operative Bank reveals £177m loss, plus Co-op Group appointment
A new chief executive is set to take over at the Co-operative Bank in January 2017, as the organisation announces a loss in the first half of the year. The bank reported a loss of £177m in its interim results for the six months to 30 June 2016. In a statement it said that while results were “ahead of plan”, it incorporates some significant items such as a gain from the sale of a share in Visa Europe (£58.1m).  It also announced that the Co-operative Group – as the bank’s largest shareholder – has taken up its right to appoint a non-executive director. Alistair Asher, general counsel, joined the board in September.



July: Credit union launches for civil servants
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), one of central government’s largest departments, launched a credit union for staff – the first credit union scheme for civil servants. Around 85,000 DWP employees are now be able to start automatically saving part of their salary into credit union savings schemes, which were set up with Commsave, Hull & East Yorkshire and Voyager Alliance.

July: Credit unions and mutuals sign Women in Finance Charter
HM treasury launched a charter designed to improve gender diversity in senior positions within the financial sector. The first 72 signatories included the Co-operative Bank and the Co-operative Credit Union, as well as Capital Credit Union, London Capital Credit Union and South Manchester Credit Union. The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society and ICMIF member Ecclesiastical Insurance also signed up, along with eight other building societies, HM Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority.

August: How credit unions can fight off payday lenders for good
A new employee benefit loan scheme is aiming to combat people’s dependency on high-interest payday lenders by offering access to low-cost borrowing through local credit unions. FairQuid is an online platform that connects companies with their local credit unions. Employees can apply for a short-term loan from the credit union through FairQuid, with repayment automatically deducted from their wages.

October: Nine ways in which credit unions are different
Worldwide, there are over 57,000 credit unions across 105 countries, servicing 217 million members. Marked every year on the third Thursday of October, International Credit Union day highlights and celebrates the history and achievement of the movement. The theme of the 2016 ICU Day was Authentic Difference, and highlighted nine ways in which credit unions are different.



August: ICMIF report indicates growth in % of women on boards
The International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF) published updated research looking at its members’ governance in terms of gender diversity. The results, which were based on 2015 data, were “very positive for the co-op sector, showing a significant growth in % of women on boards over a five and ten year period,” said Ben Telfer, vice-president, business intelligence, at ICMIF.

June: Mutual and co-operative insurers continue global growth
The latest Global Mutual Market Share report published by the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF), showed that the sector’s global reach is continuing to expand. The number of people protected by mutual insurance grew to 955 million in 2014, up from 923 million in 2013. Collectively, mutual and co-operative insurers employed 1.11 million people worldwide in 2014 – an increase of over 20% since before the global financial crisis (2007: 0.92 million).

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