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Q&A with CEO Rob Goudswaard

Rob Goudswaard - Chief Executive Officer

What were the highlights of your first
full year in the role?

Several things stand out:

  • the involvement of our members, Board and people in creating the CUA Purpose, which now guides the way we act as a business and towards everyone with whom we engage
  • the Board’s approval of our Strategy, our roadmap for building-on our 70 year old foundations and creating the modern mutual our members expect
  • developing our Mutual Good Strategy to create a greater connection with community
  • delivering on our promise to enhance the member experience through improvements to online banking for mobile, the CUA credit card and the first phase of our streamlined loans application system, and
  • our financial performance

Tell us a little more about the financial outcomes?

Our financial results were exceptionally strong. As the Chairman said, we did experience some headwinds but we achieved an almost 6% increase in consolidated Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) – up from $48.81 million last year to $51.66 million this year. Throughout the year, we’ve endeavoured to balance our twin goals of offering members value through our products and services whilst ensuring we remain financially strong.

We’re working to improve the value of our health business. We’ve resolved a few teething problems with claims and we’ll start to see some much stronger evidence of the health contribution to the CUA group in terms of NPAT. About 10% of our existing members belong to CUA Health. We are doing a strong job in matching members’ health needs with the right CUA Health product – health insurance has got to be one of the most complex products in the world. Our people see it as something our members really value and they are creating opportunities there.

The strategy aims to improve member access – how is CUA making that happen?

Members should be able to access CUA through the channel of their choice and whenever they want, not only during the hours we’re open.

It’s a digital world and our members expect us to keep pace. Not doing so is unacceptable. Knowing how to leverage dynamically changing technology is an ongoing challenge which is why our partnerships with fintechs are important. When I look at the ideas coming through I see lots of possibilities – we need to think about how we best continue serving members in running business as usual while keeping our minds open to fintech opportunities.

The regulatory landscape remains challenging – how will CUA work in that space?

One of the things that the recent Senate inquiry into mutuals and member-owned firms demonstrated was the great opportunity we have to build the level of knowledge and understanding our politicians have about our sector. We need to be very persistent to ensure our needs are taken into consideration when government makes policy decisions. Our industry needs to do more to educate our regulators about the impact their decisions are having on our ability to compete. CUA has a key role to play in being an advocate for member-owned organisations.

What are the key actions for 2017?

Starting to deliver on our Strategy by improving our digital capabilities, growing member numbers, strengthening our engagement with our members and our people and achieving our financial targets.

We’re expecting economic conditions to remain tough. We’ll enhance our ability to attract members by our commitment to deepen our connection to communities and by being true to our aspiration to create and share value for ourselves, members and social causes where our expertise can help. Mutual Good isn’t a tag line. It’s up to us to prove to our members that we’re authentic. Next year I hope to be hearing more members say they belong to CUA because we align with their values and desire to be part of a community that helps.

I also see our three-year sponsorship of Queensland Cricket as a new way of approaching the market as well as a further bow to our community engagement activities. Our partnership with Queensland Cricket and the Brisbane Heat will introduce CUA to a completely new audience of families, sports fans and businesses with the potential to bring new members through our doors.

We should be really pleased with what we’ve achieved but I want to see us focus beyond the balance sheet to how well we’re serving our members and creating value for them. That’s how we’ll remain relevant for the next 70 years.