ST ALBANS DISTRICT CREDIT UNION LIMITED
Thirteenth Annual General Meeting
Monday 16th March 2015 8.00pm Hatfield Road Methodist Church, St Albans
Minutes of Meeting
Present: Chairman, Colin Metcalfe; Treasurer, David Edwards; Secretary, Keith Whiteford
and 21 other members
A list of apologies is available on request.
The minutes were approved without amendment.
Colin Metcalfe presented his written report, available to attendees. The data presented showed the development of the CU over the year. 2013/14 was a year of mixed figures but a positive outcome. In the year fewer Credit Union loans were granted with a total of 119 and a value of £123,506, compared with 165 and £202,000 respectively in the previous year. Share deposits however increased significantly; up by over £100,000, whilst adult membership increased overall by just 96, due mainly to a number of members with short term crisis loans being removed from the member’s register during the year. The total loans granted since formation was close to £1.7 million. However, both by tighter control of lending and better credit control, and because of the fees received for administering loan schemes for both the County and District Councils, an increased surplus was achieved and the Board is proposing an end of year dividend for the first time since the Credit Union’s formation in 2002. We see this is as a significant milestone in the Credit Union’s progress as a sustainable organisation and one of the targets set by the Board is to be able to recommend a dividend in future years.
In the year we also granted 313 Local Authority loans with a value of £95,833, a number of which assisted local families into private sector housing. Unfortunately whilst the loan scheme with the District Council has been renewed for a further two years, the County Council decided to manage their crisis fund in a different way and the joint agreement with HertSavers and ourselves will lapse in March 2015. Our volunteers have put a great deal of work into administering this scheme over the two years and we are disappointed that the agreement has ended.
In September, a further Customer Centre in St Helen’s Church, Wheathampstead was opened, run by a new group of volunteers from that village, and it has produced good results to date. This opening was a result of the increased interest in credit unions within church communities following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s initiative on payday loans.
The number of junior savers has continued to grow, up by 79 over the year, with a corresponding increase in junior saving deposits. On the back of our presence in Wheathampstead, another Treasure Chest savings club was started in St Helen’s Primary School.
Last year we reported on the arrangements that we had agreed with both Unite and Unison Trade Unions as their preferred credit union within Hertfordshire. Whilst some enquiries have been received, this has disappointingly not yet generated the extra business that we had hoped. However, in September The CU agreed its first employee payroll deduction scheme with St Albans City & District Council, and we are looking to build on this with other local employers.
The Board recognises however that there are challenges facing the Credit Union. In common with many credit unions, our loan book has been reducing over the past year or so, whilst our saving deposits continue to increase. Last year we reported that, due to a tightening of our loan criteria, we were seeing a drop-off of loan applications and approvals and anticipated that this could continue for some time. We are still receiving a reasonable level of applications but these are often cases that we are unable to help from our normal Credit Union funds. The Board fully appreciates the needs that exist within the local community, set against the responsibilities to our savers and supporters, and we continually keep this difficult balance under review. In order to safeguard our income, we do however need to attract more loan applications that represent lower risk to the Credit Union. At the three year Strategic Review that the Board undertook during the year, we considered how the Credit Union could attract a wider cross-section of the community and, by so doing, improve our loan book. As a result we have set up a working group to look at how we might upgrade our IT systems and technology so that we can offer the level of service that consumers are coming to expect from their financial services provider, and we are strengthening our business development and marketing function to build on our current relationships and target new opportunities.
The best advertisement for the Credit Union is still, however, the recommendations of our members, often resulting from the personal service that we can offer. Repeat loans continue to be a fruitful source of applications and we can normally deal very quickly with these and other applications from existing members. We have money just waiting to be loaned out at competitive rates and I ask that you think of us first if you need a new boiler, a major car repair, that special holiday or a much needed home improvement. We continue to need the active support of all our members.
The office in Hatfield Road continues to be very well used. During the year, the office was refurbished for the first time since 2002 and is now a more welcoming environment for customers and volunteers. Harpenden and London Colney continued their limited opening and providing an important presence in their communities. We continue to run a single session each Wednesday in the Local Services Hub based in the St Albans Civic Centre.
The Marketing Group has sought marketing leads by attending a number of community events and local forums and by visiting businesses and community groups. Credit Notes 17 was issued and was widely distributed throughout the community as well as to all members and more recently Credit Notes 18 has been produced and distributed. Thanks go to John Humphreys for maintaining and updating our website throughout the year. The website is increasingly being used by members and non-members to make contact with the Credit Union. We have recently appointed a University of Hertfordshire student to re-launch our social media presence.
Treasure Chest schemes continue to run in a number of local primary schools. Our thanks go to the teachers and parents in the various schools and to Councillor Janet Smith for her work on our behalf.
We continue to participate in local Credit Union Forums where we can share experiences with other credit unions. As a member of ABCUL’s Eastern Region, Board members have attended regional meetings as well as those of the more local Hertfordshire Credit Union Forum
Colin recorded his thanks to those who have helped keep the Credit Union running this year:
David Edwards took the meeting through the major points in the accounts, already circulated to members. Due to the tougher lending policy introduced in August 2013, gross loans to members fell by £59,000 during the financial year. At the end of the year, 60% of loans were from CU money and 40% from local authority money and this is reflected in the £148k liability to local authorities. Cash and bank deposits grew strongly but, like everyone else, the interest the CU received on deposits is very low. The main reason for the growth in our bank deposits is the £105,000 increase in savings. Thanks to trading profitably, the total capital, including reserves grew to £128,000. This represents 11% of total assets, the key ratio used by regulators who require a minimum of 3%.
Interest income fell because of lower loan balances and donations are down because we had a successful fund raising campaign the previous year that we did not need to repeat. Other income was higher because of the fees received for administering Crisis Loans. Looking at the expenses, office renewal costs were higher; being the cost of refurbishing the office and the big change was the £40,000 reduction in bad debt costs following the change in our lending policy. This all resulted in the excellent result, a profit of £23,000
Finally, David thanked the Finance team of Chris Hall, Vicki Hadley, John Lickiss and Quentin Kealing for all their good work during the year
5. Dividend Distribution
The Board advised that the Credit Union was in a position to pay a dividend of 1% of members average share balance in respect of the 2013-14. It was noted that the dividend is paid before the deduction of tax and that individual members are responsible for reporting this income to the tax authorities. The Dividend was proposed by Marva Hall seconded by David Edwards and passed unanimously by a show of hands.
6. Auditor’s report and Adoption of Accounts
The Treasurer drew the meeting’s attention to the penultimate and final paragraphs of the Auditors’ certificate which opined that the credit union was able to continue to trade and that the financial statements gave a true and fair view of the state of the credit union’s affairs and had been properly prepared in accordance with the relevant legislation. The Auditors had once again commented on the high standard of the accounts.
A resolution to adopt the accounts was proposed by David Edwards, seconded by Anthony Baker and was endorsed unanimously by a show of hands.
7. Supervisory Committee Report
Andrew Petch introduced himself as chair of the Credit Union Supervisory Committee and presented a report on the work of the Committee.
The committee decided to move our annual reporting date to 31st December in order to present the members with a more up to date picture of our activities. This report therefore covers 15 months.
During the period our committee comprised Andy and Olusola Akinola. They produced a schedule of supervisory tasks to be undertaken each year based on the model produced by ABCUL and use this schedule to control our activities. They have found that there is just about sufficient resource to cover these tasks but they can always use some help if any members would be interested in this work.
He detailed the tasks undertaken by the Committee in the period:
Going forward, the committee will report on the verification of closed credit union customer accounts which was done as part this year’s audit,
He was able to report that the supervisory committee checks revealed no problems of major significance during the period and that these findings were underscored by our auditors who found that the credit union is extremely well run and that all FCA/PRA procedures are complied with and he concluded by thanking Sola for all her work during the period.
8. Election of Directors
Under the rules, one third of directors retired each year. Marva Hall, Anthony Baker and Colin Metcalfe are retiring by rotation and offer themselves for re-election. Proposed by Andrew Petch seconded by Sue Lomas, the aforementioned were elected unanimously by a show of hands.
9. Election of Members of Credit and Supervisory Committees
a. Credit Committee: Arthur Chapman, Sue Lomas, Keith Whiteford, Anthony Baker, Freda Chaloner
b. Supervisory Committee: Andrew Petch and Olusola Akinola offer themselves for re-election Proposed by David Edwards, seconded by, Rita Waldron, approved unanimously by a show of hands.
10. Appointment of Auditors
The re-appointment of Appleby & Wood as Auditors was proposed by David Edwards and seconded by Chris Hall – approved unanimously by a show of hands.
11. Any Other Business
There was a short discussion on Marketing the CU and how to make best use of social media.
Distribution: Available on request to all members of St Albans District Credit Union and via www.stadcu.org.