Sun | May 28, 2017

Credit union affiliates share new home

Published:Sunday | June 21, 2015 | 6:00 AMNeville Graham

Affiliated companies Quality Network Co-operative (QNet) and Credit Union

Fund Management Services (CUFMC) have moved into shared premises close to both the commercial hub of Half-Way Tree and the business district of New Kingston.

The credit union affiliates share 7,900 square feet of space at 10 Ruthven Road under a five-year lease that expires in 2019.

The property is owned by Jamaica Credit Union Pension Fund (JCUPF), which acquired it in 2012 for $96.2 million. JCUPF oversees the pensions of all staff members in the credit union movement, and CUFMC manages those funds.

The premises previously housed the head offices of Total Jamaica. The petroleum marketing company now operates from Hope Road.

QNet and CUFMC spent more than six months giving the two buildings at the location a total makeover. They called in L'Art Interieur Design Studio Limited to totally gut the buildings - the works included internal partition, titling, painting internal and external walls, upgrading of the fence, and building a security guard house.

Upgraded security

They also upgraded the security features of the building. This was important, especially in the case of QNet, to house mission-critical computer architecture and a disaster-recovery facility for all credit unions. The building comes complete with meeting and training rooms, and extra backup power.

"After 10 years of operation at 6-10 Eureka Crescent, we had outgrown those cramped premises. We wanted to put in a First World operation that can take care of the needs of all the credit unions and other financial institutions that we serve," said QNet general manager Bethune Lugg Banton.

QNet already has eyes on new markets and "will be specifically targeting small businesses to supply all their computing needs in the way that we do for credit unions", Lugg Banton said. QNet is a cooperative that draws membership and direction from all existing credit unions.

For the CUFMC, the move represents a new face for the public side of their operations. The company has already indicated through press advertisements that it will be chasing after business outside of the credit union sector - a movement comprising close to one million members.

"We basically shifted all the client services to this location. Here, we house reception, business development, the CEO, investment and credit," said CEO Adrian Thompson.

"Aside from the fact that we had grown in numbers and needed additional office space, we needed a location and office layout more suited to our strategy of offering services to non-credit union clients as well," he said.

Back-office operations

The Manhattan Road headquarters of parent company Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League will continue to host CUFMC's back-office operations.

"The Manhattan road location was already synonymous with credit union services, so, to underscore our new strategic direction, a new location was thought of to provide the necessary emphasis," said Thompson.

"The location at 10 Ruthven Road provided the opportunity to be closer to our extended target market, while the ergonomic design and layout of the space was deliberate in ensuring that we not only meet, but exceed, the expectations of our clients."

The move was originally scheduled for December 2014, but was delayed to March 2015. The official opening ceremony was held on Tuesday, June 16.

Both QNet and CUFMC say they are looking to the new office space as the means to improve client services, provide new amenities for employees and create room for business growth.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com