Bristol Credit Union announces expansion into Dorset.
Today, 9th November, Bristol Credit Union (BCU) has announced that it is to merge with Wyvern Savings and Loans (WSL). The merger means BCU expands across the South West into Dorset and the Wyvern region adding 3,000 members and £1.9m in deposits to BCU’s existing 16,000 members and £7 million deposits, with a combined total of £12.5m in assets. The newly merged businesses will operate under the Bristol Credit Union umbrella, with a local identity in the Dorset region.
Members of both credit unions voted in favour of the merger at general meetings in September, and BCU received final investor approval with Bristol City Council cabinet members giving their backing for the move on Tuesday, November 3, subject to final due diligence. The combined goal for the expanded BCU is to expand their collective reach, delivering more and better services for both existing and new members.
Geographical expansion helps reduce geographic concentration risk in spreading investment and BCU’s ethical savings and loans across a larger volume of members, as well as sustaining and creating more jobs. BCU aims to increase lending, addressing WSL’s low loan/asset ratio. The Bristol headquartered credit union has increased its loan book from £5.5M to £6.6M in the last year, and over 50% in the last two years, and will bring this learning to WSL. In the 2018/2019 financial year, BCU helped over 3,350 people borrow £5.9 million at affordable rates. BCU's digital platform is available now, revolutionising the way alternative finance is accessed. The platform makes it easier for members to open accounts, get loans and manage savings online.
James Berry, CEO of Bristol Credit Union said:
“This move makes Bristol Credit Union a significant force in the South West of England. We are now able to help support and offer our responsible, alternative financial services across the Dorset and Wyvern regions, providing ethical loans and savings to all our communities. Now we’re in a recession and it’s more important than ever to reach those in financial need with fair and adaptable services to help our communities build back better.”
Tim Topper, Board member of Wyvern Savings and Loans commented:
“We chose Bristol Credit Union as they most closely aligned with our Board’s requirements, sharing our values and ethos with a capacity to develop and grow our services. This move will allow us to widen our network and to increase our capacity in the Dorset and Somerset area to provide ethical loans and services to those who need them most.”
In February 2020, WSL issued an invitation to other credit unions to consider a merger with them. James Berry met with WSL directors and their general manager in early March. At the March BCU Board meeting, James Berry prepared a proposal document for WSL to review, with a Q&A session in late April.
The expanded BCU membership area was formally registered with the Mutuals Registrar in September, with the merger itself requiring permission from investors before implementation. Upon completion, members of WSL will automatically transfer to BCU, with member’s shares and loans also transferring across. Members will continue to benefit from full Financial Services Compensation Scheme protection at all times, and BCU holds capital far in excess of its regulatory requirement, providing the opportunity to continue to invest in growth.
Bristol Credit Union and Wyvern Savings & Loans to merge