News

Illawarra Credit Union & Community First plan to merge

In a step that will provide opportunities for all our members and staff, Illawarra Credit Union and Community First Credit Union (Operating as Community First Bank) are planning to merge.

In the competitive banking world, we’re always looking for opportunities to enhance the value we offer to our members. A merger with Community First Bank brings together a range of synergies and capabilities that will help position us for our next phase of growth.

The background

The Board of Directors of Illawarra Credit Union and Community First Bank have agreed to merge, positioning both organisations for future growth.

Following the successful completion of a due diligence process, the merger of Illawarra Credit Union and Community First is now awaiting formal approval from bank regulator – the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).

Of course, our members have a say in the merger too. Following APRA approval, a member vote on the merger will take place in late 2024 at the Annual General Meetings of Illawarra Credit Union and Community First Bank.

We will keep you up to date about where and when the AGM will take place and how you can have your say.

An exciting step forward

If all goes to plan, the merged entity will have almost 80,000 members and customers, and combined assets of approximately $2.5 billion. In a competitive banking market, this will give the merged entity valuable strength.

John Tancevski, CEO of Community First Bank, says, “The merger is an exciting step for both Community First Bank and Illawarra Credit Union. It will create valuable member benefits, allowing the two organisations to position themselves for their next phase of growth.”

A history of shared values

The fact is, Illawarra Credit Union and Community First Bank share a long history of collaboration, reflecting our shared values.

Anthony Perkiss, CEO of Illawarra Credit Union, commented, “Together we recognise the exciting synergies in combining our strengths into a single, larger community-focused financial institution where we can better meet the needs of all our members while retaining our high standards of service.”

While the merged entity would be larger than both organisations were before, we can assure members that we remain 100% committed to continuing to put you at the heart of everything we do. We pride ourselves on providing personal service and great value banking and that will never change.

In particular, the merger will see Illawarra Credit Union members and customers benefit from access to enhanced technological capabilities and greater physical distribution. It also gives our resources a boost, allowing us to better meet our ongoing prudential and regulatory obligations while increasing our focus on innovation, enhanced customer experiences and growth.

Rest assured, if the merger proceeds, there will be no forced staff redundancies. So, members of both organisations will continue to be welcomed by the same friendly faces, with the same commitment to great service.

We’re here to answer your questions

Our members are an important part of the merger process and we’d like to assure you that all decisions we make are underpinned by what is in the best interests of our members.

We’ll be keeping members up to date on the progress of the potential merger via the latest news section of our website. You can also expect further direct communications from us as the process progresses.

FAQs have been developed to help answer some questions you may have and can be accessed further below.

In the meantime, if you have any queries, please email us at [email protected]. Alternatively, if you'd like to speak with a team member please visit our Wollongong branch or call our team on 1300 132 249.

For media enquiries please contact Madden & Associates on 0412 372 543.

 

We're here to help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Illawarra Credit Union (ICU) and Community First Credit Union (Operating as Community First Bank) have shared a long history of collaborating together, reflecting our shared values. We recognise the exciting synergies in combining our strengths into a single, larger community-focused financial institution where we can better meet the needs of our members while retaining our high standards of service.

The merger is a merger of equals and brings fresh perspectives to help position us for our next phase of growth by strengthening our community reach through exposure to a larger member base, and opportunities to grow our deposit and capital base while creating cost and scale synergies.

The two organisations will benefit from access to expanded technological capability and greater physical distribution. It also enhances resourcing capabilities which means greater ability to meet our ongoing prudential and regulatory obligations and ability to increase our focus on innovation, enhanced member experiences and growth.

Community First has been in operation for more than 60 years having started in 1959. It has over 58,000 members, and in excess of $1.4 billion dollars in assets. Community First Bank has store locations stretching from the Sutherland Shire, the Hunter Region, across Western Sydney and the Northern Beaches. Community First Bank also owns online bank brand Easy Street Financial Services, which has been in operation since 2002.

The objectives of the FCS are to:

  • Protect depositors of ADIs, and claimants of general insurers, from potential loss in the unlikely event of the failure of these institutions;
  • Provide depositors with prompt access to their deposits that are protected under the FCS; and
  • Support the stability of the Australian financial system.

Further information about the Government Guarantee can be obtained from the APRA website at www.fcs.gov.au.

While the merged entity will be larger than both organisations were before, we can assure members that we remain 100% committed to continuing to put you at the heart of everything we do. We pride ourselves on providing personal service and great value banking and that will never change.

Members of ICU will have access to Community First’s network of 12 stores across the Sydney and Greater Sydney area, providing greater convenience and support. At the same time, Community First members in the Illawarra region will have access to a store to do their banking in Wollongong, backed by local knowledge and enhanced support. The synergies created from the merger will enable ongoing investment in technology to enhance member service and security, with an expanded contact centre to better serve members. Members of both organisations can expect access to products and services they may not have access to today and more transactional banking options.

Yes – following approval from the prudential regulator, APRA, we anticipate the member voting process to occur at the 2024 AGMs of both ICU and CFB in late 2024. Further communications and notices, including key dates will be issued to members closer to the date.

ICU and CFB entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in late 2023, with both Boards now having voted in favour of the merger proceeding following their respective due diligence processes being completed.

The union is subject to a formal review and approval process firstly by our regulator – APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority) and our members.

Following approval from APRA, we anticipate the member voting process to occur at the 2024 AGMs of both ICU and CFB in late 2024. If approved, the merger integration process will be planned to occur in late 2024 with the system integration in the first half of 2025. Community First has a strong history in working through this process having successfully completed 6 mergers in more recent history.

Yes. Both ICU and CFB are passionate about being a mutual and existing for the benefit of members, not investors. We will continue to put our members at the centre of everything we do.

The Community First Bank Chair, Stephen Nugent, will become the Chair, with ICU CEO Anthony Perkiss to be appointed CEO. After 20 years in his position, Community First’s current CEO John Tancevski will assist the Board and management during the merger transition process.

The merged entity will have over 80,000 members and customers, a combined balance sheet of approximately $2.5Bn and 13 store locations stretching from the Illawarra in the south, to Penrith in the West and the Lake Macquarie region in the north.

It will create a dominant community based mutual financial services organisation with combined years of operation of over 117 years.

If the merger proceeds, the Board of Directors will include representation from both ICU and CFB, with four CFB directors and three ICU directors to form the new Board.

The trading names of both entities will remain the same for at least a 12 month period. However, the banking licence will be retained in Community First Credit Union moving forward.

Importantly, there will be no forced redundancies as a result of the merger. The same friendly staff who have been serving you will continue to serve you into the future – they’ll simply be part of a larger team. Together we plan to utilise the merger as an opportunity to inject key resources where they are needed most, creating further opportunities for existing staff.

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