Ben Woods, Assistant Archivist, Australian Mutuals History
We’re always looking for interesting characters that have had significant impacts on the credit union and mutual banking sectors and whose stories we can share. A good friend of Australian Mutuals History mentioned to us that a man named Gary Eggert has led more credit unions than any other person. He is the record holder. With that we endeavoured to get in touch with Gary to ask him about his credit union story …
I began by asking Gary if it was indeed true that he had led more credit unions (as General Manager or CEO) than any other person. He confirmed that was indeed the case. In his time Gary Eggert was General Manager/CEO of 9 credit unions. These included Transport Credit Union, Power Credit Union, Select Credit Union, Access (NSW) Credit Union, NRMA Credit Union and Broadway Credit Union. The story he told of the demise of Broadway Credit Union was a fascinating and unique one. Gary recounted that “the members of Broadway Credit Union voted to liquidate the organisation instead of merging with a stronger credit union. Along with their savings, departing members pocketed a $20, 0000 dividend”. As Gary said, it was a shame as Broadway Credit Union once had many members and had a solid history.
Mr Eggert was born in Tamworth NSW and went to Tamworth High School. He always wanted to be a banker and joined the Rural Bank where he worked for 16 years. He was frustrated at being unable to advance his career (due to the bank bureaucracy at the time not allowing staff to transfer to another branch) and qualified as an accountant. Upon qualification he was advised that with his love of banking and people he would be “bored stiff” as an accountant and told he’d be happier staying in banking.
Gary Eggert got a job as a management consultant for the Association of NSW Credit Unions (ANSWCU) in 1981. He worked with ANSWCU until 1984 when he became General Manager of the Transport Credit Union. He left that role in 1991 to take the reins at Power Credit Union. His career also included being a faculty member of ICUDA’s (Institute of Credit Union Directors Australia) Development Program.
Unsurprisingly, Gary said the highlight of his credit union career was being a CEO. He said that there was nothing like being at the pointy end of decision making. He also said that looking after members and staff was very rewarding. He enjoyed the people aspect of credit union work right through his career.
Gary Eggert had many good things to say about the credit union industry but he wanted to say that he thought they had collectively got a few things wrong over the years. He thought that “personal loans were always a great strength of credit unions but after deregulation in the 1980s, they had lost sight of the importance of this area and let smaller private operators dominate much to the industry’s disadvantage”. He also thought that the industry should have maintained a “co-operative focus” regarding computing systems and software. He thought the introduction of the Fiserv system was particularly divisive.
Along with our recent conversation with Mr Eggert, this piece drew information from the oral history interview he did with Richard Raxworthy in 1990 (held in our oral history collection).
We thank Mr Eggert for talking with us about his credit union experiences.