Your New CEO and Au Revoir

Your New CEO and Au Revoir

Peter MacDonagh and Mike Knight shaking hands in front of a Riverside Credit Union sign
Peter MacDonagh, new CEO (L) and Mike Knight, outgoing CEO (R).

We’ve got a new CEO

I’m delighted to announce that the directors have approved the organisation’s succession plans, and we now have a brand-new CEO.

Peter MacDonagh, formerly the operations manager here at Riverside Credit Union, has now been appointed. This internal promotion, and Peter’s personal progression, sit easily with our founding ethos.

We have also been busy with other organisational restructures and drafted in additional staff members.

With everything seemingly in place, this “old git” finally gets to hang up his keyboard. I am moving into semi-retirement in the New Year; it would have been full retirement, but the directors have asked me to proffer some ad hoc support and mentoring to the team when required.

Your new CEO

Peter, our new CEO, has been on this same journey with us for some time in one way or another, first as a junior member, then latterly as a volunteer and now as our new CEO. He is well versed in all the fiduciary duties and is awake to the responsibilities of the organisation’s future.

A Speke lad, I first met him as one of the kids who attended and helped at the summer playschemes I ran in Stockton Wood school in the ‘80s. I later learned he’d gone off to Nottingham University and grew a ponytail (he won’t mind me mentioning that!). After graduation, he spent some time working in Australia.

Then, 15 years ago, on a return home to the UK, he popped into the Credit Union to have a look at his old account. I happened to see him and tentatively asked how we should go about moving our paper-based operation onto a new computer software package. Colin, a founder member and our chief financial officer, delicately suggested Peter (minus the ponytail) could become an indispensable member of the team. That short 4-week voluntary project kept getting extended as he continued to demonstrate his value in the organisation.

The new office and counter service

We have sent out notice via social media and email publicising the closure of the Speke branch in the New Year. Plans are happening right now to move all our services to our Garston branch, and the Speke office is on track to formally close on the 17th of January.

The rationale behind the move is based on Covid-19 and cost savings. These past two years have, at times, been dark for all of us. Delta anxiety has now met Omicron anxiety, and there is some alarm by the sudden rise of the latter. As a responsible business, we have decided it’s safer for you and our staff if we work from home. The pandemic has highlighted to the organisation just how expensive it is to run and maintain two empty buildings.

The directors have undertaken a full review of how best to service members’ needs when we emerge (and we will) from the restrictions caused by Covid. It is our plan to enhance the online offer and establish a new counter service for a more rounded offering, for the “next normal”, in the refurbished Garston office.

So, all in all, there are some big changes in your Credit Union, but hopefully, work in the background will ensure continued improvements and afford you an uninterrupted service.

The old git moves on

My involvement with our Credit Union began over 30 years ago. Back then, our community was in the extraordinary position of being England’s most deprived electoral ward. Many of our friends, family and neighbours were being mercilessly exploited by a whole raft of legal and illegal money lenders. Now, offering credit to people to prevent financial exploitation might have been (on the face of it) a premise without meticulous assessment; what should a group of fair-minded people do? There was a need, and we set out to meet it by means of mutual aid.

Our Credit Union was formally registered as Speke Credit Union in 1989 with the then Registrar of Friendly Societies. The early years certainly weren’t beige. We embraced the concept of “learning by doing”. That mindset, alongside a co-operative spirit, has got us to this point in our development.

Today, Riverside Credit Union is an authentic, multi-million-pound community-owned asset, providing ethical financial services to its thousands of members.

There are no words, though, that can express how grateful I am for the privilege of working with the staff, volunteers, and directors of Riverside Credit Union. The team and this place have been my family and home for a big part of my working life. That I got to spend time working with people so spectacularly talented and unstoppably optimistic is a piece of good luck, and I am fortunate to have made so many lifelong friends.

On reflection, I would say our persistence paid off. Yes, there were a few anxious moments but also some of the most engrossing times of my life. What I have learnt and know for certain is that altruism is alive and kicking.

Au revoir

The time has flown by for me (feel like I’ve waited longer for a bus!). To all our members, I say au revoir as your CEO, but I will still be an active member of Riverside Credit Union.

I honestly consider myself lucky to have spent my time working alongside a group of people who come together in the spirit of co-operation to support each other. My very best wishes go to Peter, our new CEO, the staff team, volunteers and directors.

It would be remiss of me not to thank you, the members, who continue to place trust and support in your Credit Union. I suppose it’s easy to get ambushed into thinking we are alone in an increasingly atomised society. However, it’s long been my view that ordinary people can, when we choose, do extraordinary things. And the team at Riverside are a testament to that. I would just ask that you keep hold of the notion that co-operation really is a currency in and of itself.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to every one of you.


Mike Knight