Mike Ribbens, General Manager bcu; Bryan Ussher, son of Bill Ussher, one of the founding bcu members and Steve Targett, Director (Deputy Chair).
Mike Ribbens, General Manager bcu; Bryan Ussher, son of Bill Ussher, one of the founding bcu members and Steve Targett, Director (Deputy Chair).

New manager of the ‘merger of equals’

NEW bcu manager Mike Ribbens has been a busy man travelling to branches across the region as he prepares to finally settle in Coffs Harbour this month.

"It's hard to appreciate the distances involved but all of our locations from Port Macquarie to Maroochydore are unique and it's great to see that strong connection between staff and our members," Mr Ribbens said.

Late last year when bcu and West Australian mutual P&N Bank joined forces it was described as a merger of equals.

The merger was unanimously backed by both boards and created a member-owned bank with two brands, 150,000 members and $6 billion in total assets.

"One of the intentions of both boards going into the merger was that the bcu brand would remain on the east coast and the P&N Bank brand on the west."

Mr Ribbens, a career banker with almost four decades of ­experience, has been travelling between Perth and Coffs Harbour for the past three months but will settle here permanently in the next few weeks with his partner, Ruth.

"Firstly I've been getting to really know the brand, travelling to all 21 stores around Southeast Queensland and NSW meeting all staff," he said.

"I can really appreciate the great strengths and how we can leverage the unique capabilities on both sides - what we can take from P&N Bank will help bcu and vice versa. Lots of these capabilities are very complimentary."

A continuing focus on retaining members will be a priority for Mr Ribbens in coming months.

"I'm making sure we do a lot of work with members from a retention point of view," he said.

"We are going to be far more proactive with members - touching base to see if products are still fit for purpose and having those conversation are proving to be very powerful based on members' reactions so far."

Mr Ribbens is a keen chef and is looking forward to making the most of what the Coffs Coast has to offer in the way of fresh seafood for his signature dish.

"I make a very mean creamy scallop dish," he said.

September will see bcu's 50th anniversary and celebrations will likely be centred around Macksville where it all began.

"We will be doing something big to celebrate and we are very keen to welcome new members to be part of the next 50 years," Mr Ribbens said.

"The next few years will be a journey of joy but a lot of hard work to make bcu number one but it's also important that members don't see a great deal of difference - that it's still the bcu they love."

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