New credit union chairwoman keeps it local

SOUTH WEST Credit’s new chairwoman Deb Porter says good communication is the key to doing good business.

Ms Porter, 46, said good communication by South West Credit enabled it to distinguish itself in investors’ minds from the recent demise of other local financial institutions, Banksia Securities and Southern Finance.

Ms Porter, a lecturer in ethics, law and professionalism at Deakin University in Warrnambool, said South West Credit was an authorised deposit-taking institution and its deposits were covered by the same government guarantee as banks.

“We are as safe as the major banks but as a not-for-profit organisation we can be dynamic and relevant in the local community,” she said. 

Banksia Securities, which went into receivership last year, and Southern Finance, which sold to the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, were non-bank debenture issuers and not covered by the government guarantee.

“Reaching 50 years is a tremendous achievement and part of South West Credit’s success story is that it is so closely linked with the local community."

Ms Porter, a lawyer and former nurse, joined the South West Credit board in 2008 and was formerly its vice-chairwoman. 

She said she joined the board because she wanted to be involved in an organisation that contributed to the community.

South West Credit, which has about 10,000 local members, produced a net profit of $228,029 last financial year, down from $410,217 in the previous year.

It has attributed the drop to low consumer demand for credit combined with historically low official cash rates and strong competition for retail deposits.

South West Credit’s chief executive officer David Brown said that while profit was “modest,” the board was comfortable with it given the prevailing economic circumstances.

Ms Porter said South West Credit’s goals were not only to make a profit but to make a difference to the local community.

It is a major supporter of local community events, including the Wunta Fiesta, and sporting clubs.

Ms Porter has been appointed chairwoman as South West Credit approaches its 50th anniversary next year.

“Reaching 50 years is a tremendous achievement and part of South West Credit’s success story is that it is so closely linked with the local community,” she said. 

Ms Porter, who replaces Robert Lane, is the 17th person to lead the board and only the second woman to hold the position since the credit union was established in 1964.

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