CUA (formerly Credit Union Australia) is a mutual financial institution committed to being the preferred alternative to mainstream banks in Australia. CUA is more than twice the size of the next largest credit union and is Australia’s largest mutual organisation with $6.6 billion in assets under management.
In the quest to be the leading member owned banking alternative in Australia, CUA has the support of over 800 passionate staff whose primary focus is serving over 400,000 members through three state offices and over 70 branches and regional centres down the eastern seaboard and in Perth.
CUA membership is open to all Australian residents, who in turn can access a comprehensive range of competitive products and services including home loans, personal loans, term deposits, savings accounts, financial planning, health insurance, general insurance, commercial finance and travel.
CUA’s vision is to provide customers with “a change for the better”. To this end, CUA was voted Best Credit Union at the Australian Banking & Finance Awards from 2003 to 2006 and has continued this success through being named Credit Union of the Year 2007 in Money magazine’s Consumer Finance Awards. This title is considered extremely prestigious as the awards are independently judged by Cannex.
The CUA difference
In April 2008 CUA launched a national advertising campaign featuring Scott Cam, star of Channel Nine’s Domestic Blitz, to educate Australians about the difference between CUA and the banks. The key points of difference that the campaign focussed on include
- CUA puts people before profit - At CUA, the service is personal and members are placed at the centre of every decision.
- CUA members are also the owners - CUA is 100% Australian owned by its members, not external shareholders. This means that members know what it’s like to bank where products are designed to support their lifestyle - not to line the pockets of shareholders. Each member has a voice and a say in the credit union’s future.
- CUA profits are used to improve products and services - Unlike banks, the profits from CUA are reinvested into offering members and the community a full range of flexible, competitive products and services.
- CUA educates members on how to bank without fees – CUA does not charge account keeping fees and 80% of CUA members don’t pay any regular transaction fees.
- CUA lets members choose how they want to deal them - 24/7 phone, internet and SMS banking, mobile managers, branches everywhere, Australia wide ATM network, Bank@Work service, Australia Post network, Australian located call centre.
CUA has a proud history of upholding the values of corporate sustainability, particularly in the area of social responsibility. The purpose of CUA’s community investment program is to foster positive social change through the support of community organisations, programs and charity projects.
All CUA staff are passionately involved in their local community and encourage their members to take up the challenge to join in changing lives for the better.
In June 2008 CUA announced an exciting new chapter as they officially welcomed Relationships Australia, the nation’s premier expert on family health and well-being, as their national community partner. CUA will commit over $1 million in time, money and resources to deliver a three-year, national program to arm Australians with the life skills and resources to affect positive, personal change by building better relationships.
Relationships Australia is the crown in CUA’s already strong community investment portfolio which includes the following recent initiatives:
- School Fun Run program - a three year national sponsorship to give local schools a healthy change to traditional fundraising drives.
- Pets in Crisis - an ongoing relationship as the sole supporter of a joint venture between RSPCA Queensland and Queensland Department of Communities to support victims of domestic violence in breaking away from the cycle of abuse.
- Panthers on the Prowl - continuing support of a program to target local Penrith children considered most likely to disengage from school.
- Montrose Access – financial aid to help ease the burden on the parents of children with disabilities by providing equipment and counselling services.
- Leukaemia Foundation, National Breast Cancer Foundation, RSPCA and Make-A-Wish Australia – selling merchandise to support these organisations during their respective awareness months.
Alongside these projects, CUA supports other local sporting or charitable groups within the communities in which they do business. They also offer the following staff opportunities:
- Staff volunteering program – staff are allocated one paid day a year to volunteer at a community group or charity of their choice.
- Staff benevolent fund - offers support to any staff member who may experience unexpected hardship due to serious illness, accident or death.
- Employer of Choice for Women – CUA has been recognised by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency over the past three consecutive years from 2005-2008 and is committed to retaining this status.
CUA has a proud heritage with roots that can be traced back to a few small credit unions in the 1940s including the Catholic Thrift and Loan Co-op in 1946, the Thrift and Loan Credit Union in 1948 and the Postal Workers Co-op Credit Society in 1949. From these humble beginnings rose several decades of mergers which saw each of these original credit unions ultimately become part of CUA.
On 10 February 1966 staff of the General Post Office in Brisbane saw the opportunity for a change and established the Queensland Postal Cooperative Credit Union, which later changed its name to Credit Union Australia, and even later merged with other credit unions with roots dating back 20 years earlier.
Some of the initiatives in these early days included a field office (a caravan) to service regional centres, and new products such as line of credit, term deposits and a travel agency. Along the way, the original 180 members swelled to 11,504.
The change in name to Credit Union Australia welcomed new branch openings throughout Queensland – eventually totalling more than 30 locations. The beginning of an insurance division and financial planning services, together with new computer technologies and a landmark 24-hour ATM service all combined as CUA continued to change and grow for its 63,958 members.
Australians’ way of life continued to gather speed and CUA’s change to a new core banking system and 24-hour phone service helped to keep pace. As CUA added home loans and the original CUA Kids Club to their growing list of products and services, they were recognised as Australia’s fifth largest credit union with 113,723 members.
CUA’s merger with CPS Credit Society and Metropolitan Credit Union brought with it their first move to Victoria and New South Wales. But it was another merger with Australian National Credit Union which brought the biggest change and saw CUA’s rapid growth throughout New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and the ACT.
After being named ‘Credit Union of the Year’ by the Australian Banking and Finance Awards for four consecutive years and amassing more than 380,000 members, CUA had changed enough to become the largest credit union in Australia. This time of change has been reflected in the adoption of the new 'pathway' logo and a simplified name - CUA.
As for the road ahead, the thoughts, hopes and aspirations of CUA members will continue to guide the credit union’s every choice for the business. CUA is developing new ways of supporting social change in their local and global communities, bringing fresh perspective and solutions to old issues. And, not least of all, CUA will stand proudly as the number one banking alternative for change-ready Australians everywhere.