Why Horizon Credit Union is becoming a bank from September 2

Name change: Chief executive Jon Stanfield and chair Mark Crowther prepare for Horizon Credit Union to start promoting itself as Horizon Bank.
Name change: Chief executive Jon Stanfield and chair Mark Crowther prepare for Horizon Credit Union to start promoting itself as Horizon Bank.

Locally grown Horizon Credit Union is changing its name and will start promoting itself as Horizon Bank from September 2, 2019.

The Illawarra and South Coast based credit union was established in 1964.

The move in early September is described as an evolution in Horizon's offering as a banking alternative to people who value personal attention combined with high tech banking facilities and competitive rates.

Horizon chair Mark Crowther said the name change decision was not taken lightly.

"Regrettably, many people don't know what a credit union is, who can join and what they do," Mr Crowther said.

"Changing our trading name to Horizon Bank changes that instantly and opens us up to a new market".

Horizon Bank will continue to be customer-owned.

And will run solely to benefit customers.

Mr Crowther said the ongoing goal for the locally grown financial institution is to provide a special personal service that is transparent and hassle-free.

"In a world of technological innovation, Horizon Bank values people above all else," Mr Crowther said.

That goal is reflected in the bank's recent customer satisfaction rating of 96 per cent.

Chief executive officer Jon Stanfield said Mr Stanfield said he has been with Horizon since September 2003. He said while the change was one of the bigger decision in his 16 years in reality apart from the signs not too much was changing.

"The essence of what Horizon is all about, the values, the principles, the people who work here and our reason for being, none of those things are changing at all," he said.

"We are not changing the legal name of our business. We will continue to be Horizon Credit Union Ltd trading as Horizon Bank.

"For that reason we are not required to get approval from our members. But if at any time we decide to change our legal name to Horizon Bank we would go through that process.

Mr Stanfield said following the Banking Royal Commission the Government and its regulator APRA were keen to promote more competition in the banking sector.

Part of that was making it easier for anyone with a banking license, including building societies and credit unions to be able to operate as a bank if they wish to do so.

But Mr Stanfield said the decision to start calling Horizon a bank was a real head verses heart one.

"All of us who work here have always been very attached to what credit unions are all about," he said.

"But we have just got to face the harsh reality that many people under the age of 40 just don't understand what a credit union is.

"There are a whole lot of misconceptions that we have tried very hard over the years to overcome but it is very hard.

"So we have tried to stay true to who we are, change our name and still open ourselves up to that demographic".

Mr Stanfield said when customers call Horizon Bank they won't ever be talking to a call centre overseas.

"They will be talking to be people in their own branch or at head office," he said.

"There is a real need for people to do their banking with a place that acts honestly, ethically and in their best interests.

"Horizon Credit Union has been doing that for 55 years and as Horizon Bank, it will continue to do so".

Mr Stanfield said Horizon was already well known for its support of community events, causes and financial literacy programs for children.

He said that will continue under the new name Horizon Bank.

Mr Stanfield said Horizon's program of delivering financial education through theatre performances has reached 17,500 primary school children in the Illawarra and South Coast over the past five years.

He said as a bank Horizon will also endeavour to keep providing its customers the latest in banking technology.

That will include SMS alerts, a mobile banking app, real time payments and partnering with Apple Pay, Google PayTM and Samsung Pay digital wallets.

Mr Stanfield said combining the lastest technology with great service and competitive rates were all important to Horizon Bank.

He said personal care was also important as a customer-owned bank and that will continue at all the branches in the region.

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This story Horizon Credit Union becomes a bank on September 2 first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.