A Welsh credit union is continuing to excel following an outstanding performance in the last 12 months.

In that time Smart Money Cymru, with offices in Caerphilly, Blackwood and Tredegar, saw a huge rise in the amount of loans to members and a correspondingly large increase in income.

CEO Mark White attributes the success to the period in lockdown when the management team undertook an in-depth analysis of the organisation and launched a major modernisation plan.

He said: “The changes we made are bearing fruit and enabling us to lend more to members, some of whom can struggle to find fair finance elsewhere. This is crucial as we see the cost of fuel and food rising and household budgets coming under pressure.

“It is also interesting to note that we have seen a large rise in membership as more people in the area we serve are learning how we can help them, and improve their daily lives.

“We became the first Credit Union in Wales to offer an online catalogue of more than 5,000 homeware products such as fridges and televisions to our members from a trusted supplier. This has proved very popular and many new members have joined to take advantage of the service.”

Latest statistics from the Bank of England show that CUs in Wales increased lending by 3.79 per cent (UK 7.34 per cent) while Smart Money Cymru saw a lending upsurge of 48.53 per cent. Smart Money Cymru’s income rose by 47.39 per cent compared with 7.28 per cent in Wales and a mere 0.79 per cent across the UK.

Savings by Smart Money Cymru members’ increased by 9.48 per cent, in line with UK trends, but more than double the figure for Welsh Credit Unions.

Mr White said: “It goes without saying that the last two years have been very challenging for financial institutions and their customers.

“We have a strong presence on the ground with offices in Caerphilly, Blackwood and Tredegar, and we work hard to reach out to the locality,” said Mr White.

Underpinning this approach, the Credit Union rebranded as Smart Money Cymru Community Bank, to better reflect the changing role in providing fair finance.

"We have served the community for more than 30 years, and as times change, we are determined to change with them and become the sophisticated and flexible organisation our members deserve,” said Mr White.

“We do not have a ‘tick box’ mentality based only on a credit score, but look at the wider picture when we make decisions on lending,” he said.

“Above all, the last 12 months shows that our recent initiatives are bringing more members into our fold, and we are able to make more loans to them in fair and equitable terms to help them and their families prosper.”