Home' Connexus : Issue 44 Contents the back of satisfaction derived from the bank’s
commitment to sustainable development. In tur n,
that helps the business.
“ That commitment leads to engagement, and
engagement leads to high levels of productivity,”
says Dowland. “ Then productivity benefits flow
through to the bottom line, into the business, in
ter ms of our cost-to-income ratio and our capacity
to price product really well and still be profitable.”
Future looking strong
Taylor says sustainability is a critical part of
Greater’s strategic future. “That sustainability
aspect is about making sure our people are capable,
investing in them, and making sure we have our
financial metrics and customer ser vice right. We
need to make sure our customers are happy with us.”
Minz believes Her itage and other customer -owned
organisations have an intrinsic edge courtesy of
their values, whereas the major banks can’t break
the shackles of the shareholder model.
“ You can’t put a value on that,” he says. “If you
ignite the flames of an individual’s values, they
become aligned to the cor porate values and the
benefits just go on and on.”
Evers says a positive outlook for People’s Choice
will need attention to detail on a number of fronts.
“ We have three key stakeholders in our business
members first, staff and community. They’re all
interconnected and no one can stand apar t. Because
if you start to separate them, you haven’t got the
alignment right through.”
Bank mecu is pursuing par tner ships such as an
agreement with Foresters Community Finance to
build on the work of the former Fitzroy Carlton
Credit Cooperative, which recently merged into the
bank, to help the disadvantaged access mainstream
banking ser vices.
Dowland is confident that existing policies and
membership of GABV stand it in good stead to serve
the community while also making healthy profits on
behalf of its customer s.
“ We can’t underestimate the value in being a
customer-owned financial institution that takes the
middle-man investor out of the relationship,” he
says. “We know who we exist for, we know why we
exist and who we’re tr ying to deliver value to. We’re
not trading off the customer benefit and investor
benefit. It’s a ver y clear position we can take the
business for ward on.”
Cameron Cooper is a freelance writer.
Meeting the challenge of Islamic banking
Islamic banking services are a potential
new market for a customer-owned
banking sector that prides itself on
providing service with a difference.
Growing Islamic populations in areas
such as western Sydney are crying out
for an ethical banking offering that meets
their cultural needs.
“ We’re seeing an increasing interest
in ethical banking,” says Tony Schesser,
senior manager research & advisory
at the Customer Owned Banking
Association. “And Islamic banking is, by
definition, very close to ethical banking.”
Islamic finance is based on the
principles of Shariah law and maximising
social welfare (maslaha, meaning ‘public
interest’) through five key pillars: faith, life,
wealth, intellect and posterity.
The global Islamic finance sector is
worth about US$1.3 trillion.
“ Our sector has always looked at under-
serviced areas or those that haven’t
necessarily had exposure to mainstream
financial services,” says Schesser.
Islamic banking expert Mahir Momand,
who is working with COBA on the issue,
says Islamic investment typically screens
out companies linked to socially harmful
things such as armaments, tobacco,
gambling, gossip media or pornography.
Also, the Koran effectively bans the
payment or receipt of interest.
“ One of the fundamentals of Islamic
finance is that it’s founded on the
creation of actual assets and value,” says
Momand. For that reason, interest can’t
be part of any transaction, creating a
dilemma both for banks in Australia and
their Islamic customers.
A COBA forum this year on Islamic
banking services was well attended
by members, says Schesser but he
concedes there are legislative hurdles to
overcome as well as accounting and other
challenges before it could be introduced.
“COBA and participating members
would have to make considerable effort
to ensure it would be well received by the
Nevertheless, he believes the
opportunities are worth considering given
the expansion of the Islamic finance
market. “ It ’s becoming a real growth area.
We feel there’s an opportunity for our
members to become involved, and that’s
what we’re trying to service.”
If you ignite
on and on
27/09/13 4:57 PM
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