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They've coughed up market share to the banks and mergers have sliced the number of credit unions in Australia, yet the not-for-profit financial sector appears to have sidestepped widespread job cuts.

Helen O'Reilly, executive manager, employee relations, Teachers CU, says staff numbers are stable and that her firm, one of Australia's largest credit unions, is in good financial shape.

The CU is even hiring marketing, IT, administration and project specialists. "The majority of our staff are in member services, but we are growing and becoming more sophisticated and are now offering roles to risk, project management and business analysts," explains O'Reilly.

A business analyst with five years' experience could earn between $90k and $100k at Teachers CU, she adds.

Rob Davidson, CEO Davidson Recruitment, agrees credit unions are relatively healthy financially. Staff often enjoy better working conditions and hours than they would at banks, although salaries tend to be lower.

The credit unions, according to Davidson, are mostly recruiting for middle management roles, and are using the current market downturn to restructure and upgrade staff and IT systems.

They are also attracting applications from candidates who've been laid off by the banks. "The conservative structures of the CUs are proving very appealing, as is the prospect of improved work-life balance, less stress and simpler access to top management layers," says Davidson.

Al Ritchie, director, Ritchie Associates Recruitment, says the credit unions are enjoying a good run because they are managed well. "They have great staff and systems, although I am not seeing any hiring activity. The news I hear is that staff seem to be keeping their roles," he adds.

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