New home for Llandrindod Wells Credit Union

Andrew Davies and Amy Greaves of Smart Money Cymru

Llandrindod Wells’ revitalised Credit Union is moving into its new home in refurbished, accessible premises in the heart of the town.

The town’s long-standing CU Red Kite merged with leading Welsh Community Bank Smart Money Cymru last year, and now people are seeing tangible benefits from the move.

The ground floor, modern office in Middleton Street replaces the previous upper-storey location, and will put the Credit Union at the centre of the town and the community at a time when the need for local banking has never been greater as traditional banks are closing their doors.

Red Kite joined Brecon & District Credit Union under the umbrella of Smart Money Cymru Community Bank in a partnership bringing much-improved financial services to Mid Wales. The Powys institutions are now part of the Smart Money Cymru network with branches in Caerphilly, Blackwood, Tredegar, Aberdare, Brecon and Llandrindod Wells, making it one of the fastest-growing financial institutions in Wales with just under 12,000 members.

Smart Money Cymru CEO Mark White explained that the benefits of a larger, more efficient organisation, run for the benefit of members not shareholders, were considerable. “This means that members in Powys will have sophisticated banking services on their doorstep at a time when communities across Wales are losing theirs.

“They now have better, more accessible premises in the centre of the town as well as upgraded IT and banking services, and we have ambitious plans to develop services and facilities across Powys,” he added.

Smart Money Cymru, with the help of the Welsh Government, is making substantial investments in Powys. Andrew Davies has been appointed Manager for the County to spread the word that Community Banking is growing in importance, and he is working hard to encourage individuals and organisations to take advantage of the services on offer. Banking services for the Voluntary Sector is another important and growing area for which demand is strong.

Not-For-Profit Smart Money Cymru has made enormous strides in the last two years forging strategic partnerships and bringing enhanced financial services to these areas. With support from Welsh Government it has invested in new digital platforms, streamlining lending procedures and enhancing customer service. As a result, membership has increased, and lending soared by 49% in a year.

With the cost-of-living crisis still a major problem, the battle against financial exclusion is ever more pressing, said Mr White. “Financial pressures on households are still immense, and this is why the work of credit unions and community banks is so important, “he said. “Our aim is to widen access to fair finance, and to keep people out of the hands of unscrupulous lenders who take advantage of the vulnerable, especially at times like this.”

Another important initiative is Smart Goods, which Smart Money Cymru launched a year ago and is now available to Llandrindod members. The scheme allows members to obtain loans which they then use to buy from a catalogue of 5000 homeware goods such as fridges, freezers and televisions and this has proved very popular.

A member of the Red Kite Board, Nicola Roberts, joined the Smart Money Cymru Board following the merger.