They say time flies when you’re having fun. That certainly seems to be the case for our wonderful credit union, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in October 2020. That’s three decades trading as a successful financial co-operative, right here in Rochdale – the home of the co-operative movement.

It’s fair to say a lot has changed since the days when Maria McKee topped the charts with ‘Show Me Heaven’. This post will take you through the history of the credit union, where we are now, and provide a bit of insight for our aims and ambitions over the next 30 years.

Our humble beginnings

Metro Moneywise Credit Union was established in 1990 by a pioneering group of Rochdale Council employees who wanted to give their colleagues access to a safe savings scheme and low-cost loans direct from their salary.

Inspired by the rich co-operative history of Rochdale, the group decided that the co-operative model of a credit union was the way forward. After much hard work and intensive training Metro Rochdale Employees Credit Union was launched.

Ran initially by volunteers, the credit union attracted 212 members, made 91 loans and generated a surplus of £604 in its first year of trading. By 1996 the credit union changed it name to Metro Moneywise to reflect the fact that it had grown to provide services to more than just council staff, with payroll partners encompassing local housing providers, schools and the NHS.

1996 was also the year Metro Moneywise employed its first member of staff. Lorraine Mark-Bell – joined by Carol Lees in 2000 – worked out of what was affectionately known as “The cupboard” in the infamous Black Box, before moving to larger, more permanent premises in 2003.

Carol and Lorraine in “The Cupboard”

Where we are now

Fast-forward to 2020 and the credit union has welcomed over 10,000 members. We’ve looked after over £10m of savings, lent in excess of £50m and shared more than £2.5m of surplus with our members. Based on our estimates, we’ve also saved our members over £12m simply by borrowing with us rather than high-cost lenders.

As for staff, the credit union now employs eight people and recruited its first CEO, Ciara Davies, in 2018 with a vision to digitally transform the credit union. Since then, Metro Moneywise has made it quicker and easier for members to join, save, and borrow as well as introducing more flexibility to suit our members’ changing needs.

This digital transformation certainly came into its own during the COVID-19 outbreak. The team were able to move to home working while maintaining the same quality of service. We remain very much open for business, which has been the case throughout the pandemic.

Despite so much change, the credit union is still committed to providing the best service to our members. We pride ourselves on treating people like individuals, which is why we’re so proud of our 5 star Google reviews – not to mention 97% of members saying they would rate us 5/5 for customer service.

What does the future hold?

With so much uncertainty in the world today, our promise to members is that we’ll always be here to listen. Whatever your circumstances, and whatever’s happening in the world, we’ll always do our best to help improve your finances to give you one less thing to worry about.

Amongst other things, the coronavirus crisis has exposed how vulnerable many working-age adults are to financial shock due to the lack of adequate savings. That’s why we will be launching a new savings campaign to encourage non-savers to take the first step towards building their financial resilience by saving with us directly from their salary.

Most of all, we want to extend our services to more and more of your colleagues. We provide our members with a first-class service, fantastic interest rates on both savings and loans, and a guarantee that your money is used to make difference to people’s lives.

After all, we believe in people helping people. That’s what we’ve done for 30 years, and what we’ll continue to do for the next 30 and beyond…

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