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Hey Greg, most of your predictions are no-brainers I think. It's been a very positive start to 2007 for us already with tons of businesses, big and small getting in touch to find out how to measure their carbon emissions, how to reduce them, and how to offset what they can't reduce. We've had to hire extra staff already to cope with the load.

Your second point is interesting as, of course, carbon trading is already a 6 trillion dollar per year industry and growing by the day. Its such a shame that Australia is largely excluded from this by our government's recalcitrance. The UK's department for the environment, DEFRA, has launched a voluntary code of best practice for carbon credits retailers and have invited us to be involved, despite being all the way down under, so, with luck, we can lobby for the inclusion of NGACs (the only real Australian carbon credits are issued by the NSW Govt but we hope the scheme will be rolled out nationally this year).

Sadly I have to concur with your third point, sea levels are on the rise and the latest IPCC report makes for grim reading on that front.

Point 4 is also interesting, especially in light of the work Google have been doing in the 'day trader' business. Data that was once the province of very expensive software is now free and up to the second thanks to Google. Expect more like this. Also I expect more and more banks will embrace blogs and RSS feeds and wikis and so forth to open more honest and direct channels of communication with their customers, staff and partners.

Your point 5 is also interesting but from a different perspective. Big banks are being forced to refocus on local customers, while smaller financial institutions are playing in the bigger banks space. I agree with you that more personalised services will be more the norm. Technology such as iChat and Skype are helping us connect directly with our customers and suppliers. I can only imagine this will become the norm in the financial sector eventually.

I also agree that businesses are becoming much more people friendly and are paying much more attention to the human needs of their staff. Also technology, done right, helps turn firms from being lumbering dinosaurs into agile monkeys.

Your last point is also a given, as they couldn't do much worse could they.

Cheers - Dave Sag (CEO - Carbon Planet).

Interesting predicitons Greg. The one about banks realising they need to provide better service made me laugh. I noticed recently one of the big banks running adds with a theme that they had pinched all the good customer service reps for their new and improrved customer service units...only a few short years after sacking those same people! Then again I'm always astonished that the big banks have ANY customers at all given the amazing difference in service levels between them and credit unions.

I admire your optimisim about the environmental predicions. I hope you're right.

Has Savings and Loans considered entering the Reverse Mortgage Market?

Thanks for your predictions Greg

I think it is great to see companies interested in things outside just the money they make. The community and the environment are important issues.

I also think human rights are important. I see the SA unions making a stand about the plight of David Hicks - Do you have a prediction for him for 2007 - will we see him get a fair trial.

Hi Greg,

In your predictions you predict/hope for "high levels of customer service".

You also predict that "Business leaders will open lines of dialogue with their staff to improve morale, customer satisfaction, efficiency and, ultimately, profit. Businesses will change to suit their staff, rather making everyone follow one model."


Do you often get a chance to "open lines" with your branches and agencies? Do you reguarly (or plan to) visit the regional areas perhaps?

How much contact do your branch/agency staff have with you? (Not including the staff where your office is).

This is such a great idea, being able to chat with the CEO. Keep up the good work.

Thanks for the question, Ron.
Reverse mortgages are very complex loans and anyone providing them needs to spend a lot of time with their customer to make it is right for them. Savings & Loans doesn’t offer reverse mortgages through our branches, but our financial planners are more than happy to discuss them, and other options, with anyone. The Credit Union also owns a loan broker company, LoanSA, that offers reverse mortgages.

Reverse mortgages are fantastic for people who have a lot of money tied up in their home, but don’t have cash on hand. They can really help to make someone’s retirement years a lot more comfortable. Of course, it’s a very emotional subject and a lot of care needs to be taken to make sure the borrower understands the conditions of the loan.

Cheers
Greg

i am sure that i have recently read where visa ( which is controlled by hundreds of banks) is to be sold to a private enterprise. are you able to advise what affect this may have on our visa account especially in regard to fees which we currently do not incur.

Hi Mel,

I’m lucky to be able to keep in touch with our staff on a fairly regular basis. It’s obviously difficult to speak to everyone in the organisation individually, but I try to be as accessible as possible.

I visit every group of inductees to the Credit Union, which means I get to have a chat with every staff member when they start working with us.

Along with the other people on our Executive team, I also make appearances in staff meetings and get out to the regional areas on a fairly regular basis. Of course, a lot of our staff who aren’t based in Adelaide travel here for meetings and I try to meet as many people as I can at these opportunities.

Visiting the branches helps me understand what the plans are for the organisation and gives invaluable personal feedback from the people who deal with out members every day.

Being spread across the country (we have branches in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and the Northern Territory), it is difficult to stay in touch with every branch, and our annual Communications Night gives me the opportunity to have contact with everyone. If anybody can’t make it to Adelaide for the night, either myself or someone else from the Executive team travel to their region to talk about how we’ve performed and where we’re going.

We also have an online forum for staff to discuss any ideas they might have to help the Credit Union improve. Everyone across the organisation can read and contribute to forum, which helps change basic ideas into detailed plans.

Cheers

Greg

Hi Fred and thanks for the question.

Visa is owned by the (approximately) 21,000 financial institutions that use its services and is quite unique in that its owners are also its main source of revenue. I’m not aware of any moves to change the ownership structure of Visa, so I’m not able to comment on it.

Most of the fees incurred on a Visa account (with a few exceptions) are determined by the financial institution issuing a card or providing merchant facilities, rather than being set by Visa. That’s why different fees and rates are charged by different credit unions, banks and building societies.
If you’d like more details on Visa’s structure and its role, have a look at www.visa-asia.com

Cheers
Greg

Hi Greg how about installing an ATM in the vicinity of Central Market? - say in the arcade there. I hate having to use foreign ATM but as most market stalls only take cash I find myself having to use one & this is the only vicinity where this occurs.

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