The Directors’ have pleasure in presenting the Annual Report and Accounts of Ormeau Credit Union for the year ended 30th September 2019.

The ownership and governance model of the Credit Union ensures that we focus on credit union fundamentals. The mutual cooperative model means that profit maximisation is not our aim. Rather the needs of our Members, drives our decision making. The customers and owners (shareholders) of banks are usually different groups of people with different and conflicting needs to satisfy. In contrast, you are both the owners and the customers of Ormeau Credit Union, so the Directors act with your best interests in mind in everything we do. We strive to treat all Members fairly and deliver good outcomes to them.

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The Board’s main strategic role is to ensure forward viability of the Credit Union and its primary responsibility is to manage the risks that might threaten that viability. Our office management team led by Mr Ace, give form to our strategies and ensure that the policies which the Board put into place are transferred into operational practice. In turn, these processes and systems are tested, not only by McGuire Farry as part of its annual audit, but also on a continuing basis by a team of internal auditors from another accountancy firm CavanaghKelly, and of course by the Bank of England through its regulatory arms, the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority.

Ensuring organisations have adequate protections against cyber-crime is much to the fore of the Regulatory mind at the moment. It’s something that we also take very seriously. Whilst our systems remain isolated from the main banking networks (which is the main point of access risk), we believe that it’s important they are nevertheless independently tested. We therefore commissioned a professional review (known as a Penetration Test) of our system by a firm called Vertical Structure. I am pleased to report that our system remains robust and impervious to online hack. We will respond positively to any further regulatory guidance in this area and test as required going forward.

I would like to extend a very warm welcome to Sonja Orderly who joined the Board as a non-executive Director on several months ago. Sonja brings a wealth of experience from her role in the National Trust to the board and I have no doubt will be a valuable director over the coming years.

The Board is anticipating that the economic environment in 2020 will continue to be challenging, particularly as we move through the Brexit process. Although the Bank of England’s assessment is that interest rates will remain low, it is perhaps reasonable to assume that there could be at least one increase during the year. We shall welcome that as it will slightly improve our investment returns and push up borrowing rates elsewhere, making our loan product with its stable rate, that little bit more competitive. While the Board is pleased that the Credit Union has produced another good set of results for 2019, we are not complacent. We recognise the need to continue to innovate and to develop the Credit Union’s products and services where we can, so that they continue to satisfy the current needs of our Members and remain relevant as these needs change in the future. Our priorities are however unchanged. We will continue to provide value-for-money products, a secure home for our Members’ savings, and to run the business prudently in the best interests of all of our Members.

May I close with a tribute to one of our longest serving directors Julie Mullan who retired earlier this year. Julie was a stalwart of this Credit Union for many decades and she is sadly missed. I am sure you will all wish to join me in thanking Julie for her service and in wishing her all the very best for her retirement.