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CUA Celebrates Significant Milestone

Lape & Partners Marketing Communications

February 07, 2006

Credit Union Australia (CUA), is set to celebrate its 40th birthday on Friday the 10th of February, 2006.

In 1966, CUA opened the doors to its first branch, located in the heart of Brisbane city, and over the years the organisation has grown immensely to become the largest credit union in the country.

CUA, known then as the Queensland Postal Cooperative, was established as a financial organisation where individuals would lend each other money in times of need, with first loans issued to a maximum value of $550.00.

Since its inception the organisation has acquired an impressive portfolio of assets under management, whilst also investing in a number of cooperatives. In 1999 CUA surpassed the $1 billion asset milestone and two years later established 'Telebanker' the first voice-activated banking facility offered by any Australian financial institution.

Just last month, CUA officially merged with Australian National Credit Union (ANCU), which has brought the total number of branches to 76 throughout Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Canberra and Western Australia.

CUA Managing Director, Mr Graham Olrich, said CUA has undergone some significant changes over the past four decades, as has the credit union movement.

"I believe CUA has played a very significant role in the revolution of the credit union sector. More people are becoming aware of the alterative to banks and this has lead to a great rise in the popularity of credit unions," Mr Olrich said.

Over the past four decades the membership within Australia's largest credit union has grown from 180 members in 1966 to more than 400,000 in 2006, and that figure is expected to continue to increase as CUA strengthens its brand awareness around the country.

"CUA is proud to have helped a great number of Australians realise their financial goals. In fact some of our long standing members have a history with us that dates back the full 40 years of the organisation's existence.

"Our membership continues to grow because we constantly endeavour to offer highly competitive products and services and tend to every member's individual needs, instead of treating them like numbers," Mr Olrich said.

CUA offers its members access to one of the most comprehensive ranges of products and services of any Australian financial institution, including competitive real estate and personal loans, commercial finance, general and health insurance, financial planning and travel services, investment and savings accounts, travel insurance, MasterCards, VISA Cards, Redicards, cheque books and specialty clubs for older and younger members.

"Our members also benefit from being able to access their money through one of the largest networks of ATMs offered by any financial institution in this country today," Mr Olrich said.

The merger between CUA and ANCU has seen the organisation take control of $5 billion in assets under management and $550 million in funds under advice.

This year, CUA will move toward achieving at least 25 per cent market share of the national credit union sector.

CUA has 76 branches throughout Australia, with 37 branches located in Queensland, 29 in NSW and Canberra, eight in Victoria and two in Western Australia.



CUA'S HISTORY 40 YEARS OF GROWTH - FROM 1966 TO 2006

1966

  • The Queensland Postal Co-operative was founded on the 10th of February, 1966 by staff of the General Post Office in Brisbane.
  • The first loans were issued to a maximum value of $550.00.
  • The first part-time employee was also appointed.

1968

  • The credit union's name was changed to the Australian Postal Credit Union.

1969

  • Mr Jack Harvey, a Post Master, was appointed General Manager on a full-time basis.

1972

  • The building at 531 Ann Street, Brisbane, was purchased as the new credit union headquarters. It accommodated the first branch outside of the Brisbane GPO.

1974

  • The credit union changed its name and became the Australia Post and Telecom Credit Union.

1975

  • Members' accounts were fully computerised for the first time.
  • Term deposits were introduced.

1976

  • A travel agency was purchased to provide discount travel to members. It became known as Leisure Travel.

1977

  • A full insurance service was provided with the appointment of professional insurance staff.
  • The Caravilla Motel at Chermside was purchased. (A chain of Caravilla motels was established in later years with the acquisition of motels in Rockhampton and Toowoomba).

1978

  • The RACQ building on the corner of Ann and Boundary Streets, Brisbane, was purchased for investment purposes. It would eventually become the credit union's Head Office in 1984.
  • Twenty-four hour ATM access was made available to members.

1980

  • A name change to Credit Union Australia was made to reflect the commonality of the credit union's membership base.

1982

  • Various smaller credit unions such as Queensland Hospitals, Health Employees, Medical Services and Electrical Supply and Local Authority credit unions amalgamated with Credit Union Australia. As a result, membership reached 38,000.

1983

  • Jack Harvey retired and was succeeded by Andrew McEachern as Credit Union Australia's CEO.

1984

  • CUA Members' Benefits Friendly Society, including Credicare Health Fund, was formed.
  • Membership reached 53,000, giving the credit union the second largest membership in the nation. At this time, the credit union boasted 31 outlets throughout the state.
  • The well-known Day and Grimes travel agency chain was purchased.

1985

  • CUA was the first Queensland credit union to pilot VISA Cards and a member cheque facility, introducing these services in February of this year.
  • Prominent funeral business, Moreton Funerals, was acquired, and a new member service was established.

1986

  • Metropolitan Funeral Services was purchased. (In time, more funeral companies were added to what later became Australian Funerals Pty Ltd, the largest funeral company in Queensland.)
  • The 50 Plus Club (this club would later be re-named the Platinum Plus Club) and financial planning services were added to the list of services on offer to members.

1987

  • Other mergers occurred, the most notable being that with Queensland Savers Credit Union. It was an amalgamation which boosted CUA membership by 22,000.
  • Housing loans were added to the lending products available.
  • A new club for children, the Credi Bear Club, was introduced.
  • The Caravilla motel chain was sold.

1989

  • The Toowoomba-based Southern Cross Employees' Credit Union and the Dalby-based Napier Grassland Credit Union merged with CUA.

1991

  • CUA celebrated its 25th anniversary. Its Head Office relocated to new premises at 410 Queen Street, Brisbane.

1992

  • A phone service providing members with 24 hours access to their account balances was launched.

1993

  • Regionalisation took place.
  • A team of Regional Managers was established to oversee the branch network.

1994

  • Cooktown and District Credit Society Ltd amalgamated with CUA.
  • The year also marked the sale of Australian Funerals Pty Ltd.
  • Andrew McEachern resigned as the Chief Executive Officer, but remained on the Board of Directors.
  • Graham Olrich was appointed as CUA's new Chief Executive.

1995

  • Credicorp Insurance Pty Ltd was established to provide members with competitive sickness, accident and unemployment insurance cover for their loan repayments.

1996

  • The Cool Change Club for teenage members was launched.
  • Fixed rate housing loan products were introduced to offer members an alternative to variable rate home loans.
  • CUA launched a touch-screen presentation, the first of its kind produced by any Australian financial institution, on the "infoBrisbane" information kiosks.

1997

  • CUA and C.P.S. Credit Society amalgamated on 1 July 1997 in one of the largest credit union mergers undertaken in Australia. The merger gave CUA its first opportunity to expand interstate with the acquisition of a small branch network in Victoria.

1998

  • The first of CUA's innovative service centres was opened within the Southland Shopping Centre in Cheltenham, Victoria.
  • The credit union's Internet site was launched.
  • CUA implemented a corporate year 2000 project in order to commence preparations for the countdown to the new millennium.

1999

  • CUA and the Brisbane City Council Credit Union merged on 1 February 1999.
  • The Ballina service centre opened its doors, marking the credit union's first foray into the New South Wales financial services market and bringing it one step closer to its corporate goal of becoming a south eastern seaboard financial services provider.
  • An upgrade of CUA's computer systems occurred to ensure year 2000 compliance.
  • Credit Union Australia became the second credit union in this country's history to reach the $1 billion asset milestone.

2000

  • PIN change facilities were introduced into all CUA branches and service centres to allow members to change the PIN for their CUA VISA Card or Redicard.
  • CUA's eastern seaboard expansion program continued, with new outlets established at Doncaster (Melbourne) and South Tweed Heads (northern New South Wales).
  • CUA's all-in-one savings, transactions and borrowing facility, the My Freedom Account, was launched to the membership.

2001

  • Telebanker, the first voice-activated telephone banking facility offered by any Australian financial institution, was launched in January of this year. Its launch gave the credit union's 160,000 members access to an extensive range of over-the-phone enquiry and transaction options including the convenient bill-paying facility, BPay.
  • Getting CUA's own Internet banking facility up-and-running became a priority project to ensure this service would be available to members in the first quarter of 2001.

2003

  • Credit Union Australia and Sydney-based Metropolitan Credit Union merged on 1 February 2003.

2004

  • Reached $2 billion in assets.
  • Coffs Harbour branch opened giving CUA its first representation in the mid-north coast region of NSW.
  • Named corporate sponsor of the year by RSPCA.
  • Announced as the 2004 Best Credit Union of the year at the Australian Banking and Finance Awards.
  • Membership reached 214, 885.

2005

  • Announced as the 2005 Best Credit Union of the Year at the Australian Banking and Finance Awards.
  • SMS banker service was launched to members.
  • Membership reached 220,795.

2006

  • Merged with ANCU to become the country's largest credit union with 76 branches, 400,000 plus members and $5 billion in assets under management.



World Council of Credit Unions is the global trade association and development platform for credit unions. World Council promotes the sustainable development of credit unions and other financial cooperatives around the world to empower people through access to high quality and affordable financial services. World Council advocates on behalf of the global credit union system before international organizations and works with national governments to improve legislation and regulation. Its technical assistance programs introduce new tools and technologies to strengthen credit unions' financial performance and increase their outreach.

World Council has implemented 300+ technical assistance programs in 89 countries. Worldwide, 89,026 credit unions in 117 countries serve 260 million people. Learn more about World Council's impact around the world at www.woccu.org.



Contact: Eleni Giakoumopoulos
Organization: World Council of Credit Unions
E-mail: egiakoumopoulos@woccu.org
Phone: +1-608-395-2031