Andrew Jones CEO of SWSCU.

The South West Slopes Credit Union have stayed committed and loyal to its members, following the Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision last week to hike up interest rates by 0.25 per cent to 0.35 per cent.

In an early notice to their members to provide clarity and clear communication, South West Slopes Credit Union released a statement to their customers last week.

“We will be reviewing our loan rates over the next two weeks, however we, unlike the other banks, are not in a hurry to push up our lending rates for existing customers,” the SWSCU statement read.

“SWSCU does acknowledge that rates will trend up over the medium term, but we will not be increasing our rates unless ongoing market conditions dictate that we need to.

“However, new loan rates may move ahead of the rates for existing loans, but this will only be after a full review of market conditions.”

Andrew Jones, CEO of SWSCU, told The Times that their decision making isn’t designed to just follow that of what the ‘big four’ banks do, as they all immediately passed on the interest rate increases to customers.

“It goes back to our own ownership structure versus the big four banks, obviously, they’re commercial enterprises, they have dividends and shareholders needs that they need to meet,” Jones said.

“Our owners are actual members. Our dividends as such are paid back to those members through the best competitive rates that we can offer, in terms of lending and deposits.

“We try to put our members first instead of our share holders.” Jones expected that the Reserve Bank of Australia would increase their interest rates, but the SWSCU are in a position to not make a reactive decision.

“When the RBA put their rates up, we were expecting that. We thought they might have gone last month, but we looked at our book and at the moment, we didn’t feel the need to act immediately,” Jones continued.

“We want to give our members the best opportunity to get their finances in order before we have to move. I would think if they increased again next month, we probably will have to move by then because we’d be getting squeezed a little bit on our margins.

“But our members come first, that’s with all credit unions to be honest, but specifically South West Slopes Credit Union.” SWSCU has received positive feedback from members so far from their fair stance. “We have had a little bit of comment [from customers]. I think we’re going to comment when the rate goes up again.

“We have had a couple of people come in and expressed surprise that we haven’t moved yet and they appreciate the fact. “When we say rates are going up, it’s not all bad news, because the self-funded retirees out there who’ve been long suffering for the last two or three years and have had very low returns on their money.

So, they’re obviously looking forward to rates going up. We’ve had we’ve kept our deposit rates fairly competitive throughout that period, and they’re poised to be the first rates to move after these are tax rates move.”

Jones left some final advice for all residents, not just members of SWSCU, as the RBA moves forward with interest rate increases.

“The most important thing through this, if people feel that they’re starting to suffer financial hardship with rates going up, can I please ask them to talk to their banks,” he said.

“Whether its South West Slopes or any of their banks, talk to your bank early.

Because it’s really important. The earlier you talk to your bank, the more they can do to help you out.”

Tim Warren