the planet Achieving scale through organic growth and mergersEnsuring supply chain/
bankmecu engages with its stakeholders to identify and respond to economic, environmental and social issues that matter to them. We responded to identified issues via the following initiatives:
- Reconciliation Action Plan
- Community Investment Program
- Community Sector Banking
- Financial Inclusion.
Community Investment Program
bankmecu’s Community Investment Program supports activities in the communities that support us. We invest up to 4% of annual after-tax profits to support the activities of our community sector customers and other stakeholders. In 2014 we invested $918,070, or 3.6% of our after-tax profit into the program. We distributed these funds to support initiatives in four focus areas:
- $529,314 (57.7%) on community resilience (which includes education, disability, cooperative development and reconciliation)
- $180,189 (19.6%) on the environment (including the Conservation Landbank)
- $158,867 (17.3%) on international development (including hosting and participating in the GABV conference)
- $49,700 ( 5.4%) on housing (supporting both community and sustainable housing).
Value of community sector banking
bankmecu aims to attract banking from community and government organisations in the areas of science, education, environment and community services. We also aim to attract the people who work for these organisations as customers.
Community sector customers represented 12 of bankmecu’s 20 largest customers in 2014, with a banking portfolio (loans and deposits) worth $422.7 million at 30 June 2014. This figure was 10.4% lower than last year’s, largely due to cash flow fluctuations among larger customers. Education represented the largest share (35.6%), followed by community resilience (29.5%), housing (28.2%) and environmental (6.7%).
Tackling financial exclusion
bankmecu understands communities need access to low-cost, convenient and effective financial products and services. Those who do not have access can suffer financial exclusion. They can include low income families, the unemployed, the elderly, people with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, rural and remote communities. The Bank takes several approaches to address financial exclusion:
- Financial Inclusion Policy. We aim to reduce financial exclusion and to improve access to banking for disadvantaged groups. Over the next year, we will establish a working group to ensure the Bank’s policy is leading to effective outcomes for our customers.
- Foresters Community Finance. In 2014 we entered into a partnership with Foresters Community Finance, Australia’s leading Community Development Finance Institution. This partnership allows the Bank to refer customers applying for small personal loans that do not meet our lending guidelines to Foresters. It builds on our 2013 merger with Fitzroy and Carlton Community Credit Cooperative Limited, which helped us expand our capacity and learn from more than 30 years of experience helping people who face financial exclusion. The new referral service is initially operating from our Fitzroy Service Centre, but we hope to expand it over the next year.
- Low income insurance. We worked with Allianz Australia Insurance Limited to tailor a home–contents insurance product for low income individuals and families. This has been introduced for customers who receive New Start, pension or Youth Allowance payments. Again it is being offered from our Fitzroy Service Centre initially with plans for expansion.