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Connexus : Issue 38
www.abacus.org.au 13 13 Connexus NEWS www.abacus.org.au The mutual banking sector ’s leading role in adopting new technology and practices was highlighted in a speech by parliamentary secretary to the treasurer, David Bradbury at the Abacus Chairs’ & CEOs’ Forum, held in Sydney in August. The agenda covered a broad range of issues. Greg Medcraft, the newly appointed chairman of ASIC, kicked off with a review of the regulator’s priorities for the financial institutions in the coming year. ANZ’s Ivan Colhoun shared the latest forecasts on the market and rates, and forecaster Brad Howarth gave his perspective on technology and market trends. Abacus outlined plans to strengthen industry promotion and Trent Bartlett, CEO Capricorn Society Ltd, launched plans for mutuals involvement in the UN-declared International Year of Cooperatives 2012. Bradbury, who was standing in for the treasurer whose international commitments meant he couldn’t attend, said the mutual sector had “lead the way in so many respects”. “ You’re a sector that has been very innovative in the types of product that you’ve offered, the types of technology that you’ve embraced,” he said. “There are many examples: the first institution to offer 24-hour access to an ATM in a retail outlet; a credit union was the first to offer an EFTPOS facility; a credit union was the first institution to allow for an international withdrawal of funds at an ATM – a world first. Bradbury spoke highly of the mutual banking sector’s “very long and proud history” and current successes as well as his own passionate support. “One of the most significant things when it comes to the mutual banking sector is the fact that, if you take credit unions, around half are located outside of the major capital cities. This is important for a few reasons: it shows the breadth of your coverage and membership, but also a greater sense of connection with the communities and people that you serve.” Treasurer opened account He reminded delegates that , in the lead up to the announcement of the government’s Competitive and Sustainable Banking System package, the treasurer opened an account at a credit union in his electorate. “He did that, more than anything, to shine a light on the fact that the mutual banking sector is an important, viable and safe alternative, ” said Bradbury. “ When we look at comparisons around the standard variable rates, on average, within your sector, you’re about 50 basis points better than the major banks. If we look at term deposits, on average, you’re about 65 basis points better. “ What you’re actually offering customers, particularly in some of those brackets, is a product that is competitive and one that we want to ensure consumers are aware of.” Bradbury encouraged mutuals to make the most of the International Year of Cooperatives by collaborating with other cooperatives and said the government would be striking a $1 coin in commemoration. “I hope that being in the business that you’re all in you get to see plenty of those $1 coins over the year to come, ” he said. With the government focused on trying to improve the competitive dynamics in the financial sector, Bradbury thanked Abacus and individual Chairs and CEOs for the spirit with which they approached the consultations and discussions prior to and since the announcement of the banking package. Signing off, he offered delegates one last piece of advice. “For what it’s worth, I think that as you meet together and plan for the future, the best thing you could do as a sector is draw some inspiration from the many achievements of your past.” leading by example Innovation, regulation and the economy were some of the broad ranging issues examined by a recent mutuals forum. “ W hat you’re actually offering customers... is a product that is competitive and one that we want to ensure consumers are aware of.”