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GOLD COAST, Australia – Competition between credit unions and other financials exists everywhere, and credit union folks down under are no exception. Four hundred senior credit union managers and directors attended a two-day Australian Credit Union Convention here on how to beat the competition. The workshops and speeches during the event emphasized the three key attributes that provide credit unions their strong competitive advantage over other financial institutions – member intimacy, excellent service and community engagement. A survey conducted earlier this year by the Credit Union Corporation of Australia, Ltd. (CUSCAL) found that less than four in 10 big bank customers would recommend their bank whereas nearly nine in 10 credit union members would recommend their credit union. Another survey showed that credit union member satisfaction increased to 85% up 10% from the previous year. Some 84 % of credit union members rate their relationship with their credit union as either good or excellent. To help maintain the reasons behind these high ratings, credit union conferees attended workshops on industry association issues, market research, credit card issues and liquidity management. The convention received extra media attention when CUSCAL CEO John Gilbert was interviewed on radio station ABC Gold and Tweed Coast. Gilbert talked about the four key attributes that differentiate credit unions from their competitors, and he also cited the high community involvement of credit unions within their communities. He told the radio audience one of the advantages of credit union membership is “not having a shareholder environment.” Gilbert said, “credit unions only serve one master and that’s its members.” He pointed out credit unions don’t “have to generate obscene levels of profits to pay dividends to shareholders.” One in five Australians belongs to a credit union. Gilbert stated he not only would like to have more members, but he would like the members to do more of their business at the credit union. -

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