2020 has not been the year any of us expected. However, throughout these troubled times, we have continued to provide guidance and support for GMB members. That’s because community and financial wellbeing is at the core of our business plan. This duty of care has gained even greater traction during the pandemic.
In this blog, we reflect on the past year in which we have learned much about the value of community. Discover how we continued the process of being an innovative, digital Credit Union GMB members can rely on.
Quarter One 2020
Upgrading our comms
In January, we implemented several initiatives designed to improve communications with members. We now provide a regular drumbeat of communication with existing and new members; our website is easier to use and promotes the benefits of joining the GMB Credit Union on a variety of platforms.
In February, we set up our Facebook page to make it even easier for members to find out what their Credit Union was doing to support them. To make the best use out of Facebook, we spent some time researching how GMB members interact digitally and how we could use the Facebook platform to communicate with existing and new members to share bitesize snapshots of our services.
We also introduced new FAQ and Blog pages on our website, providing a continuous flow of useful information to members. And due to the cancellation of our Annual General Meeting over lockdown, for the first time ever we made our annual report available online for all members to access.
Introducing our Members Assistance Package (MAP)
As the pandemic took hold many of our members began to experience significant financial strain. In response to this, we introduced our Members Assistance Package (MAP) which gave members full access to their savings and offered a range of borrowing options which included reduced loan payments, payment breaks and top-up loans at very affordable rates. We also began regular email communications which were well received.
Quarter Two 2020
In April, our first blog went live: what is a credit union and how does it work? All of our blogs aim to break down confusion around loans, savings and other financial jargon, and provide members with the information they need in an easily digestible format. A blog on how you can join the credit union followed, to let GMB members know how they could benefit from this unique member service.
With the first lockdown underway, we blogged about how we were supporting members through COVID-19, as well as updating you on important changes to overdraft fees and providing insightful advice on how to simplify your finances.
An emphasis on mental health
May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and never has this subject been more important. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen people everywhere grappling with an assortment of challenges in the face of job loss or uncertainty, lack of interaction, loneliness and financial hardship.
Our blog on how financial problems can affect your mental health offered practical advice and helpful ways to manage your finances and prevent them from affecting your wellbeing. Money worries are a significant cause of anxiety, so we’re here to offer members more affordable alternatives to harmful loans and credit cards that can plunge members into difficulties. Remember, we are more than a financial service: we are a member-owned support network to help during times of difficulty and unease.
We also offered practical tips on why credit matters and how to improve your credit score, after identifying this as a cause of concern among our members. GMB Union’s Coronavirus Hub went live in May, so we shared this with our members to help them find all the information they needed about staying safe at work and managing your finances - all in one place. Meanwhile, we continued to share handy advice and savings tips on our Facebook page as part of our regular Money Monday series.
Focusing on what’s best for our members
In June the GMBCU Board agreed a market-leading dividend rate of 1.2% on all GMBCU easy access member savings accounts. This decision came after having carefully observed the evolving marketplace and balancing the freefall in savings interest rates and regulatory advice to preserve capital and the impact of the pandemic on our members. This is something we do continually to ensure our members get the fairest possible rates.
Our Members’ Assistance Package (MAP) was also proving to be a lifeline for hundreds of our Credit Union members, as they were able to access responsible lending and restructure their finances to see them through the evolving issues of furlough, redundancies and unemployment.
Quarter Three 2020
Protecting member’s long-term interests
As we began to accept that Covid was not going away, we conducted a full review of our member loan service absorbing and acting on the feedback received from our Member Assistance Package.
We also upgraded the GMBCU website to speed up the member loan application process by offering a fast-track loan application option via NIVO. This quickly proved to be a winner with members and most loan applications are now made via our NIVO App.
Quarter Four 2020
Supporting families financial wellbeing
In October, we reiterated how credit unions could play a crucial role in your family’s financial wellbeing, as well as highlighting how our loan interest rates provide members with a sensible and affordable alternative to those available from other lenders. Read our blog on how we’ve been responding to member needs.
Time to reflect
In November we faced the prospect of another nationwide lockdown. However, by this time our commitment to communicating with our community nationally was established and proving to be effective with growth in members savings, member loans and Credit Union membership.
While 2020 may feel like a year to remember for all the wrong reasons, we are taking away many positives. Through a difficult year, we have tried to empower GMB members and protect their financial wellbeing by assisting them to:
- adjust to income and lifestyle changes
- create better long term financial outcomes
- make the most of hard-earned savings
- access very affordable borrowing
- maintain or rebuild their credit scores
- avoid the financial cliff edge and plan ahead
- protect their families
This Christmas may be a little different, but it will still be magical, and the prospect of a vaccine gives us all hope for a brighter financial future.
For us, being able to support our GMB community has made 2020 a year to remember for the right reasons. If you wish to join GMB Credit Union and experience unrivalled member benefits, visit our website.