Business

All hands on deck

C&WJ Credit Union mulls larger market share after successful merger

BY KARENA BENNETT
Business reporter
bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 02, 2018

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Community & Workers of Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union, (C&WJCCU), yesterday secured its place as the largest credit union in Jamaica following its merger with St Elizabeth Cooperative Credit Union (SECCU).

The financial institution, which opened its doors in 1961 as the Jamaica Telephone Company Employees Co-operative Credit Union Ltd, registered with membership of 135 and assets of $1,766.23 but has since improved its assets base to $13.16 billion when it completed its seventh merger with Desnoes & Geddes Employees Cooperative Credit Union in June.

C&WJCCU's merger with the SECCU will add assets of $2.47 billion to the financial institution, creating combined assets of $15.63 billion and a membership base of 122,000.

What's more, the merger will allow C&WJCCU to extend its reach into the south-western section of the island through the addition of four locations. Tomorrow, C&WJCCU's logo will be displayed on 21 branches across the island.

Members are also expected to benefit from improved saving and loan protection insurance in addition to increased ATM access.

“The merger is really about providing better benefits to our members. That is the bottom line,” chief executive officer of C&WJCCU Carlton Barclay told the Jamaica Observer during a round-table interview.

“Your savings is insured, so if something happens to you, your beneficiaries get an additional $700,000, and if you die in accident they will get $1.4 million in addition to the amount you had in savings. So we can increase those and these are benefits that the banks don't give you,” he continued.

Still, Barclay is bullish on securing an additional 15 to 25 per cent of market share over the next five years, and plans on wooing potential customers with increased product offerings.

Already, C&WJCCU has undertaken a new banking system that will allow the institution to offer online membership and loan application, bill payment and money transfer options to commercial banks, as well as mobile and telephone banking. In fact, C&WJCCU has joined forces with Alliance Payment Services to offer prepaid Mastercard services to its members.

Debit and credit cards are also products C&WJCCU is eyeing in anticipation of regulatory approval from the Bank of Jamaica.

“Mastercard allows you international access, so if you want to purchase things off Amazon or travel you can use your local C&WJ issued Mastercard,” Barclay told the Sunday Finance.

C&WJCCU currently has its products SAYE/Golden Harvest, Express Salary Deposit, Golden Anchor, Long Term Savings (LSA), real estate and motor vehicle loans. However, plans are underway to widen its lending pool to members as well as lower interest rates with capital shored up from the latest merger.

As C&WJCCU looks to maintain its place as market leader, Barclay hinted that the financial institution is looking for further growth through the merger of other credit unions. He was, however, tight-lipped on the details.

Barclay joined C&WJCCU in 2017 after serving the Jamaica National Building Society for some 15 years as assistant and deputy general manager, and then a year as managing director at Republic Bank in the Cayman Islands. To date he has overseen two mergers with C&WJCCU. He noted that his experience with mergers over the years ensures that each merger proves “best fit” for the organisation.

“We have to be careful about culture fit, so we are sticking to a certain type of membership which is consistent with what we know and what our members know. In addition, we must win over the staff or else the type of service that we offer is going to go down,” he reasoned.

“For the past five years C&WJCCU has enjoyed an average 98 per cent customer satisfaction rating, and I hope to maintain or improve customer satisfaction rating in addition to hiring qualified, competent and technical staff,” he said.

C&WJ first merged with Jamintel in 1996 before joining hands with Marine and Allied Credit Union. The financial institution sought further growth from the Clarendon Credit Union, Westmoreland Credit Union, ICD and Associates Credit Union, NWC Credit Union, D&G Credit Union, and the recent SECCU.

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