I don’t think anyone could argue that 2008 has been a tough year for many people and businesses. A series of events on the other side of the world sent shockwaves through us all and we realised just how interconnected world economies are.
Australian financial institutions were able to weather the storm better than most, though we were certainly impacted by what’s become known as the GFC – or ‘global financial crisis’. I’ve talked about it many times before and it’s almost certainly to be what 2008 is best remembered for.
Savings & Loans would have had an interesting and busy year even without the global economic conditions we’ve faced. We merged with Austral Credit Union a few months ago, launched a new program to support young carers in the community, opened new branches, introduced a new fee structure and launched some exciting new products. At the same time, I’m happy to say that we continued to keep our members’ interests our first priority.
Things are going to be tough for the next few years due to the GFC, but Australian financial institutions – especially Savings & Loans – are still in a strong position. Having said that, things won’t be as easy as they have in the past. Belts will be tightened and we’ll need to become more efficient, but years of strong performances have given us sizable reserves and a stable base to work from.
On top of this, the Federal Government’s deposit guarantee gives an extra layer of protection to the financial system – one that I don’t ever think will be used, given the rigorous legislation surrounding the sector.
So there we have it – a realistic view of what we can expect to see in 2009 and beyond. We will become more efficient, but our commitment to member service and value will never change.
This is my last blog post for the year as I’m taking some time off over the next couple of weeks. Have a great festive season and I’ll be back after the New Year.