The merger of two Illawarra home grown financial institutions took effect on Thursday after members of Lysaght Credit Union voted to merge with Horizon Bank at a special general meeting last week.
The merged entity will operate as Horizon Bank and will boast assets in excess of $560million, over 17,000 customers and 10 branches in the Illawarra and on the South Coast.
There have been no forced staff redundancies, the head office will remain in Wollongong and there will be no reduction in the level of financial investment and support provided to local communities.
Lysaght Credit Union chairman Viktor Tomeski said the financial institution has been an integral part of the South Coast and Bluescope community for over 50 years and the board wanted to ensure its members had another 50 years to look forward to.
Mr Tomeski said with rising costs, decreasing margins, and the required investment in technology and compliance merger opportunities became a part of the board's strategic planning 12 months ago.
"Partnering with Horizon Bank gives us the opportunity to share the best of each other's products, services and systems, while retaining our focus on providing trusted service to our local members." he said.
Horizon Bank and Lysaght Credit Union were seen as a good match by the two boards because they both have a strong commitment to mutual values and proud histories of providing members with competitive products and services.
Directors felt there was a strong cultural fit between the two institutions which would make for a seamless transition.
And believed the merger would deliver a range of strategic and operational benefits.
They felt the merger will ensure locally operated, member-focussed banking services continue to be available to local communities and past and present employees of Bluescope Steel.
There will be a two month transition period while the two IT systems are merged.
Horizon Bank Chairman Mark Crowther said combining the two home grown financial institutions into one entity provides a platform for ongoing growth and development of new digital banking products while continuing to provide traditional branch-based banking at a local level.
"In a time of rapid change and a need for greater investment in digital banking services, the pooled resources and expertise of the two organisations will enable members to utilise new banking channels without losing the ability to conduct face-to-face banking with real people," Mr Crowther said.
Horizon Bank history:
- Horizon Bank was established in 1964 as the Illawarra County Council Staff Credit Union.
- It subsequently expanded to incorporate other local government based staff credit unions on the NSW south coast including Bega Valley Credit Union, Wollongong City Council Employees Credit Union, Candelo Community Credit Union, Illawarra District Hospital and Ambulance Employees Credit Union, Shoalhaven City Employees Credit Union and Eurobodalla Credit Union.
- When it opened to all members of the community in 1995, the name of the credit union was changed to Horizon Credit Union.
- In 2019 it started trading as Horizon Bank.
- Prior to the merger Horizon Bank had assets in excess of $465 million, 14,900 members, employed 56 staff and maintained nine branches between Thirroul and Merimbula.
Lysaght Credit Union history;
- Lysaght Credit Union was founded in 1966 to provide banking services to the employees of John Lysaght Australia Ltd at their site on Springhill Road Port Kembla.
- Lysaght Credit Union was formed for the simple reason that the average worker could not obtain a loan from larger banking institutions and its focus remains on assisting its members with their financial needs.
- Prior to the merger the credit union has assets of approximately $94 million, 2,400 members, eight employees and maintained one branch in the Illawarra.
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