The past 18 months has perhaps been the most challenging in all our lives with the COVID-19 pandemic.

I want to highlight that our people and members should never underestimate the importance of the Credit Union movement in the local community, not only as a financial institution but for the social good it has done.

This year has been like no other and who would have imagined this time last year in April 2020 we would have to hold virtual board and finance review meetings and all our Credit Union meetings including the AGM.

COVID-19 has brought many challenges to our community and the credit union. Like many other businesses, we have had to adapt and bring forward many of the things to enable our organisation to become more flexible under the new constraints.

On that point, I would like to commend our colleagues at Credit Union Solutions led by Graham Tomlin and all the staff on their dedication which ensured that, as an essential service, we continued to provide the same professional excellent service to our members as we have always done, whilst adhering to the government guidelines. Thamesbank also introduced a discounted loan for our key workers in order to show our support for their hard work during the pandemic.

Thamesbank Credit Union has continued to provide an excellent customer experience in the area of our common bond including London Boroughs of Ealing, Hounslow, Richmond, Kingston, Wandsworth and the Borough of Spelthorne in Surrey. Also, to companies who are our corporate partners. We would like to increase these as we can offer better services than other financial institutions.

I believe in six pillars of Customer Experience, Personalisation, Integrity, Expectations, Time & Effort, Empathy and Resolution.

Although March 2020, will be remembered for COVID-19, it will also be remembered for many of our family and friends who we have lost. Not forgetting those who are recovering from long-term Covid.

Personally, as someone who has been involved in the cooperative movement throughout his working & retired life, I have used ‘the movements ethics’ to help guide me and our board to focus on how we can continue to help our local community and companies in as many ways possible.

As I’ve mentioned in previous years, one of our main objectives is to grow our loan book as this is vital to the sustainability of our credit union. I would like to appeal to all our members to try and use the credit union as their first choice when they need a loan, and always make the best decisions which loan to opt for based on the lowest interest rates available to you.

Our regular monthly eNewsletter and my weekly mini-blogs on our social media channels called “#MondaysWithMukesh”, with Director guests, who are interviewed in a relaxed style named ‘Ask Anything’ on Facebook have received positive feedback and social media will continue to create a way to link with our members.

During the pandemic we were able to offer flexibility in becoming a member, applying for loans with excellent rates. Also being able to save at better rates than the majority of High Street lenders. This has been possible by the implementation and investment of new software and upgrade of hardware thereby enabling our staff to become more flexible during the lockdown (working from home became a normal part of the working week).

Each year as part of the regulation of the credit union, the board must report to the members at the AGM and we have done this through the power of Zoom.

Thanks to our Finance Director, Nick Dowler, as well as Stefano de Zompo and the rest of the team, we can confirm:

(1) that we remain compliant in any requirement relating to any Deposit Protection scheme

(2) that we have maintained the required level of insurance against fraud and dishonesty throughout the year.

(3) If carrying out any additional activities, it is complying with any ratio requirements in relation to activities being undertaken.

I can confirm that these areas are continually monitored, and we initially had weekly meetings and now bi-weekly throughout the year to ensure we are compliant.

A very prestigious event took place where two of our board members were recognised out of 27 individuals across the UK/I for their service by being awarded the British Citizen Awards for Volunteering (BCAv).

  • Chairman Mukesh Malhotra and our previous Vice-Chair Sarah Gardner presented at the House of Lords.

We are also delighted to have received the ‘Best Business Support and Advice/Service Company’ award at the Hounslow Chamber Business Awards 2020/2021. You can read the full story here.

Finally, to my fellow directors, I say thank you for your commitment and dedication over the past 12 months and during the COVID-19 pandemic for embracing the many new challenges, not least our massive step change and the virtual meetings to enable our organisation to continue successfully

Most importantly, I would like to say a big thank you to all our members for your continued support and loyalty.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2022!

Mukesh Malhotra, Chair of Thamesbank Credit Union