A Welsh community bank has appointed a development manager for Powys as it expands its presence in the area.

Andrew Davies joins the team at Smart Money Cymru Community Bank with a brief to promote its banking services, engage with the local community and expand membership in the county. He has wide-ranging experience across the Third Sector, much of it in financial services and the credit union movement.

Smart Money Cymru has branches in Caerphilly, Tredegar, Blackwood, and recently merged with Brecon & District Credit Union giving it a presence in Powys, and the plan now is to increase its activities in the county.

Mark White, Smart Money Cymru CEO said the organisation was growing rapidly and now has over 10,000 members who are increasingly taking advantage of its loans and other financial services.

“We have invested in new technology in our branches in the Valleys to give our Members access to full banking services, and are now enhancing and upgrading services in Brecon & District Credit Union,” he said. “We believe that Community Banking is set to play an increasing role in the financial landscape, reducing exclusion and giving people access to financial services they might struggle to get elsewhere.”

The importance of community banking at the present time could not be overstated.

Mr White explained: “We hear more and more that traditional high street banks are closing branches, particularly in rural areas. At the other end of the spectrum, unlicensed lenders are operating in communities and taking advantage of the problems people are facing.

“Our aim is to fill the gap in between these extremes offering fair and affordable finance and giving families and individuals stability and security.”

Mr White’s remit is to support the expansion of community banking across Powys under the Smart Money Cymru brand. He sees four main areas of growth in Powys – employers, statutory organisations such as local authorities and health bodies, community groups and the community itself.

This was becoming ever more important, he said, as the traditional high Ssreet banks continue their programmes of closing branches, particularly in rural areas.

Mr White recently spent four years with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust, and other roles have included leading a financial capability and literacy charity working with young people in schools and FE colleges, housing associations and third sector organisations. He has worked with Smart Money Cymru already when he was part of a Welsh Government employer engagement programme in Caerphilly County.

“With experience and knowledge of the sector and the credit union movement, I am looking forward to developing services in Powys,” he said. “As Development Manager for the county, I will be dedicating myself to making new partnerships and networks.”

“The expansion of Community Banking, under the umbrella of Smart Money Cymru, will add significantly to the financial services on offer to local people and I am very pleased to be part of this process,” he added.