Meet the Board

Thamesbank’s governance and direction is made by its voluntary board members. The board meets on a regular basis and discusses a range of regulatory issues.

This series introduces each of our current board members.

“Save a little and often. I save a small amount each month and find this builds up to allow special treats and holidays.– Paul Oppe

Paul Oppe, Secretary

Paul has 35 years of business experience with large multinationals both in UK and abroad. Roles include: financial systems management; internal auditor; project and programme management. His most recent was working with London Borough of Ealing.

He is involved with the Athletics team ‘Thames Valley Harriers’ and  coaches middle and long-distance athletes – including Internationals – and recently includes the Pole Vault.

In his experience of governance and board of directors, Paul has sat as Chair and team manager for Thames Valley Harriers and for many years was the Chair of Governors at Green Dragon J & I schools.

Paul is married with three children and two grandchildren.

Paul, thank you for your time to be spotlighted for ‘Meet the Board’.

Q. Your interests are quite varied, including your involvement with the athletics club, Thames Valley Harriers and Thamesbank Credit Union. What quality do you find is consistent for being a board member regardless of the industry the organisation relates to?
A – Good analytical and planning skills. What is important is being able to balance the short term needs with the long term goals. This takes good analysis of the current situation and than planning to reach the future goals.

Q – When did you first join Thamesbank Credit Union?
A – I joined in November 2017 and am now the longest serving Director.

Q – Congratulations on your 3 year anniversary! What was it that interested you becoming involved in the governance of a Credit Union?
A – I first joined a Credit Union while working for a large American International company. It showed the role Credit Unions can play in allowing members to borrow at a good interest rates and also get a good return on their savings. I like that Credit Unions are formed around a ‘Common Bond’, usually a local community or employee.

Q – As Thamesbank secretary, can you explain briefly what the role involves – what do you get involved in?
A – I think the most important thing about being Secretary is to keep Thamesbank Credit Union moving, supporting other Directors to deliver their roles. This means helping to organise Board and other meetings, maintaining the Directory required for the Financial Regulators and with IT. Also I help with recruiting other Directors.

I have good project management skills and try to use this help with introducing new processes to Thamesbank Credit Union.

Q – Credit Unions operate in the competitive personal finance market, what are your top3 reasons for joining a Credit Union as opposed to High Street bank?
A –

1. Competitive rates for borrowing for local members

2. Any profits go to the members, through Dividends and lower interest rates and this can help those who normally would not be well served by the big banks.

3. Credit Unions don’t have overpaid Senior executives, the leaders are all volunteers. This keeps costs down and allows members – not bankers – to benefit.

Q – Can you share any money saving tips that work for you and what is it?
A – Save a little and often. I save a small amount each month and find this builds up to allow special treats and holidays. Set up a standing order or do it via your payroll. If the money goes straight into your Thamesbank savings account you don’t miss it.

As a day-to-day to example, in usual times and not restricted by COVID19, when down the pub choose the ordinary not best bitter. After two pints you can’t taste the difference and the savings mount up

Q – Many people often find approaching the subject of personal finance difficult. How would you advise someone to overcome any fear they may have talking to a friend or family member?
A – Do it! Most people want to help out. Particularly when talking to a friend or family don’t immediately ask for money. Ask first for advice, set out the problem simply and then listen to the response.

Q – Saving for a rainy day is a good mantra, would you agree? What is your ‘rainy day’ saving goal?
A – Yes, getting into a savings habit brings rewards. By saving each month I have managed to create a savings pot which has allowed me to go the Olympic Games every 4 years. – Greece, Brazil and still hoping Japan!

Q – Lastly, being a member of the Thamesbank Credit Union board,  what new developments are in progress that members can expect to see in the upcoming months?
A – In the next 3 months I am hoping we will enhance our system to offer instant online membership and loans less than £3000, subject to status. I am excited by the recruitment of a Business Development Manager who is tasked with reaching out to the local community and business to spread the advantages of Credit Unions and in particular Thamesbank. i would love to see us double in size!


With thanks to Paul Oppe, Secretary Thamesbank Credit Union

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