A passion for giving advice to family and friends on financial stability and the love for customer care led Andre Alexander, Branch Manager of the Police Credit Union, Tobago office, on a path where he dreams of growing entrepreneurs in Tobago, and helping families secure their financial future.
Alexander, with a background in Audit Accounting, moved to Tobago in 1999 from Trinidad to help a close relative with his new business. He got a job in a bank on the island, and when his area of expertise merged into the hospitality sector, he developed a love for providing quality customer service to Tobagonians.
Alexander said he found his purpose when began working at the Police Credit Union in Tobago, in 2010, as the Branch Manager.
“I saw the Credit Union as a good place where I was able to settle down, have a good future and have the opportunity to guide and mentor customers in a direction where they can have a stable financial future,” he said.
A father of three, who has been married for 23 years, described his life as full of purpose, guided by a strong spiritual foundation and strong family values. God, family and work, in that order, are his top three priorities is life, he said.
Alexander told Newsday Tobago he sees the service offered by the credit union to Tobagonians as that of a functional family structure. He said, “the credit union functions much as a family functions, in that when you look at family, there are certain things you get from being a part of a family. For instance, you get a sense of security, safety and value from being a part of a family, and that is what we bring to our members.
“Just like in a home, families feel safe to leave their precious valuables, we provide the same atmosphere where our members have trusted us with something of high value, which is their income. Knowing this, we take this as a great responsibility to manage that in a manner with the highest level of integrity and accountability where we ensure there are the checks and balances in place, there are the policy and procedures and the whole issue of governance in place that brings the best returns to our members.”
“Just like family relationships we take time to build close relationships with our members to create and strengthen their trust. I make a deliberate effort to know the names of our member and I go beyond knowing the names to getting a brief history on our members, like what are their goals, short and long term, and how can the credit union better guide and contribute towards the achievement of these goals,” he said.
Alexander listed benefits to members, noting that “we don’t penalise our members, we don’t charge our members to conduct a transaction and we don’t hold their money in the credit union.” He said surplus funds are distributed to members, who can access a host of different loan facilities and “with us, we don’t charge members for late fees, they are not charged legal fees and they are not charged any monthly service fees.”
He said he focuses on improving customer care through frequent training of staff, where the Police Credit Union was able to foster new and long lasting relationship with customers. Additionally, Alexander stressed that the belief of the Police Credit Union being suitable only for police officials is a thing of the past. He explained the organisation was initially created in 1956 to financially assist police officers who were unable to access loans because of the law preventing financial institutions from taking legal action against police officers if they fall into arrears or become delinquent on payments. This caused many banks to become hesitant to lend to officers.
Alexander said out of this a cooperative was established to care for the financial needs of police officers. Today the Police Credit Union has extended its services to all citizens of Trinidad and in Tobago in 1989.
Alexander further added, to provide an enabling environment for his clients, at the same time encouraging a strong sense of entrepreneurship in new and old clients throughout the island, are two main objectives he hopes to accomplish. “When you look at the economy as it is, people are losing their jobs and so therefore we acting in the interest of our membership it is incumbent on us to provide members with a platform which they can launch-out into their own businesses, this is currently being developed.”
“We encourage young person’s to save, more so in terms of investing because you are seen as a business owner when you become a member of our credit union. We allow them to see investing from the perspective of getting returns on your investment in the form of dividend. We also supply members, especially young people who are starting off, a consumer division. This carries a range of household items, “he stated,
The Police Credit Union has recently launched its mobile app and Tobago can expect new initiatives to improve its service in the future. He encourages Tobagonians to take advantage of the benefits of the credit union to ensure a stable and more comfortable financial future.