Every mutual that’s ever gotten going can tell a great story but NACOS Credit Union General Manager Phil Lynch’s interview in October 1999 offers some real food for thought.

Northern Areas [Whyalla District] Community Credit Union Society was registered in 1970 to serve the Whyalla region of South Australia. It expanded its bond and changed its name to NACOS Credit Union in 1992. NACOS was used as a colloquialism to begin with, standing for Northern Areas Credit Co-operative Society, but it was so popular the name was made official.

Phil Lynch’s interview in Cuscal’s Directions magazine covered several topics that enlighten not just the history of NACOS but show evidence of broader changes society wide that have affected credit unions and customer owned banks.

NACOS was rescued by the Credit Union Stabilisation Board in 1988 with Phil Lynch appointed as administrator. It grew under Lynch’s watch and was about to open its fourth branch in Clare, South Australia, as the Directions interview was going to print.

Lynch noted that the expansion helped dilute the danger of geographical risk, “In some areas members are facing a downturn in the industry they rely on. Other industries, such as agriculture, are seasonal”, said Lynch.

The article discussed the credit union’s relatively new website and internet banking service as well as its expanded branch network, which also included 10 agencies. On this issue, Lynch acknowledged the growing importance of remote online access but stressed the importance of a physical presence of the appropriate kind.

“A credit union’s presence is a valuable asset. You need to have a presence and the right kind of service to convince members to use your products instead of another financial institution’s. We push the point that we’re local and personal”, said Lynch.

The interview covered other topics that have had lasting ramifications including “the new regulatory environment, the GST and Year 2000 operational issues”.

Directions also interviewed NACOS’ Manager of Development, Shirley Collins for the piece who spoke about the effect of the new advertisements that NACOS had just released.

“The ads are very important as they portray the credit union’s professional image. They show that NACOS means business – that we are a true alternative.

“Through the help of ads like these I think people are starting to understand the difference between a credit union and a bank. They are realising that NACOS is not a bank, but it can do anything a bank can”, said Shirley.

NACOS changed its name to Alliance One Credit Union in 2006 and merged with Community CPS Australia in 2013 just prior to it becoming Beyond Bank.

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