2015 Financial Targets Achieved
In addition to meeting our financial targets in 2015, Central 1 continues to work to meet our strategic priority to be a liquid, well-capitalized, financial institution with a strong credit rating that generates a return for the benefit of members. Important components of meeting our targets are financial income and net operating income and results in 2015 exceeded targets in both areas.
Two partners, one custom solution
To support its expansion and service offerings to members in Ontario, WFCU Credit Union saw an opportunity to build upon its existing digital presence to provide members access to services anytime and anywhere.
Backed by research citing Canadians’ increasing preference for banking online, and particularly using mobile devices, WFCU Credit Union embarked on an innovative plan to launch a digital entity, omniadirect.ca, whereby members are able to access products and services without the ‘bricks and mortar’ of a branch.
With this goal in mind, WFCU Credit Union asked Central 1 to work together with their team to make omniadirect.ca come to fruition. Central 1’s experience with an existing online banking platform, MemberDirect, was very helpful in the planning, testing, and development of a new, customized solution for WFCU Credit Union. Central 1 development teams worked closely with WFCU Credit Union to ensure that their new platform had the features their members would expect, within the credit unions’ timeline to get up and running.
Says Chris Malmberg, VP Systems for WFCU Credit Union: “Thank you for the effort and leadership demonstrated by Central 1 to make omnia direct happen. It was great to partner with Central 1 on this exciting new initiative. The Central 1 team went above and beyond!”
Helping members save time, money
It’s hard to turn down a solution that helps reduce waiting time and saves money.
With branch capture, credit unions can achieve exactly that. It allows credit unions to use electronic scanners and capture software to scan digital images of cheques and then send those images electronically to Central 1 for processing, eliminating the need to courier hard copy cheques from the branch to Central 1.
The objective of branch capture is to support credit unions to move from paper-based cheque processing to an electronic application to save time and increase efficiency.
As Nicki Rudrum, Associate Vice President with Coastal Community Credit Union explains, “The remote branch capture project was very successful and we are now fully implemented and sending all our captured cheque files electronically to Central 1 for processing. The success of the project was largely due to the collaborative efforts between Central 1 Payment Services and our various internal departments.”
With the support of training videos, webinars, and in some cases, face-to-face assistance from Central 1 staff, credit unions have been adopting the application with positive results.
“Central 1 did a fantastic job working with our team and assisting with learning the new systems. The transition was very smooth because we worked closely with Central 1. We couldn’t have been successful without that.”
Members get faster service with improved FX Trader platform
Need a live spot or forward foreign exchange rate fast? With FX Trader, Central 1’s enhanced online FX platform, members can easily access more features and benefits with access to rates 24 hours a day, five days a week.
After a successful pilot program last year, the enhanced platform is now available to all members upon request. “Now you can access a live streaming price as you speak to your client, providing a constant update, mitigating any potential loss due to adverse market movements,” says Brent Clode, Chief Investment Officer.
Libro Credit Union, one of Central 1’s members currently using the platform, attested to it being “fast and simple” to create a request to book a spot transaction.
Pricing is available around the clock Monday to Friday, and any amount may be booked at once. “It reduces the time and effort to price and book FX transactions,” adds Clode.
The next step is for a white label pilot that credit unions could offer to their business members. “This allows their members to manage their FX directly with no FX risk to the credit union,” says Clode.
“This is not only a revenue generator for credit unions but an additional service credit unions can offer to clients that simplifies doing business with them.”
In 2014 four B.C. credit unions in the Kootenay region formed a Credit Union Service Organization (CUSO) to meet increasing regulatory requirements and enhance member services.
East Kootenay Community, Grand Forks, Nelson and District, and Columbia Valley credit unions contracted with Central 1’s Strategic Solutions to establish the rationale, structure, success measures and implementation plan for this shared-service organization.
Newly-formed Kootenay Risk Services (KRS), a CUSO that provides shared risk management services, then drew on People Solutions’ expertise to lead an efficient recruitment campaign, from role definition to successful negotiations with promising candidates. By making use of Central 1’s Strategic and Human Resources consulting teams, these small credit unions gained high-quality, risk-management expertise for their CUSO, while continuing to focus existing resources on member service.
After establishing KRS, three original founders applied this business model to their credit functions. Strategic Solutions assisted again to help develop the business plan and People Solutions again recruited talent able to meet the credit unions’ complex needs while serving their communities through enhanced commercial and consumer credit services. KRS is a great example of innovation and collaboration across the system.
“We sought out Central 1 assistance due to stretched resources. The value we gained from their expertise in each area was invaluable to getting our new CUSO up and running, and successful in a short time frame,” says Jody Burk, CEO of East Kootenay Community Credit Union.
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Uniting voices for common goals
The 2015 Ontario and B.C. Credit Union Advocacy Days were a great success in terms of actively engaging with provincial elected officials and raising awareness of the importance of the credit union system.
In February 2015, Central 1’s President and CEO Don Wright brought remarks to a breakfast reception attended by about 30 Members of the Provincial Parliament (MPPs) in Ontario, followed by an opportunity to speak with 40 MPPs through the day.
Representatives from all three parties – Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance Laura Albanese, PC Finance Critic Tim Hudak and NDP Finance Critic Catherine Fife – also addressed attendees at the breakfast reception. It is becoming quite apparent that our advocacy efforts have been adding to the profile of Ontario credit unions over the last couple of years.
In April 2015, Don Wright, along with then Board Chairperson Terry Enns, 25 B.C. credit union representatives and Central 1 staff went to the Legislative Buildings in Victoria. The B.C. credit union system met directly with 41 elected representatives, including five ministers, to educate and illustrate the many contributions credit unions make to the economy and in local communities.
The response to Advocacy Day was overwhelmingly positive from both credit unions and Members of the Legislative Assembly. Discussion of the taxation issue was one of the main speaking points. In September 2015, Central 1 was able to bring together members to work collectively on a position paper to respond to a consultation on the review of the Financial Institutions Act and Credit Union Incorporation Act. The entire system was engaged and provided feedback, which led to a system-wide consensus on most key issues.
Membership growth is in the cards
Attracting interest with Facebook gift codes might be trendy, but old-fashioned cash in hand is still unbeatable.
Get Your Share, a Credit Unions of BC Province-Wide Communications Program campaign, significantly evolved in 2015. An updated offer, member referral incentives and new partnerships with local cooperatives/charities added up to 320% more activity than 2014, with 11,953 new members participating in the program.
“Credit union engagement, a simplified offer and cash cards as promotional materials were key contributors to the dramatic increase in activity this year,” says Martin Reed, AVP, Marketing and Research. “We more than doubled our acquisition goal.”
In 2015 Get Your Share provided $100 to new members depositing a minimum of $100, or $200 to new members adding payroll/pension direct deposit or transferring a business chequing account. Existing members also received $25 each time they successfully refer a new member.
Customized landing pages and cash cards (uniquely branded to various credit unions, made to look like gift cards) encouraged credit unions to promote. Of those 11,953 new members, over half signed up with a branded cash card.
From the Get Your Share homepage, British Columbians may choose amongst any of the province’s 45 credit unions – delivering the message that even the smallest local branch is backed by a powerful province-wide network and shared values.
Ontario members engage with policymakers
Ontario credit unions were active in advocacy efforts in 2015, partnering with Central 1 in a number of meetings, submissions, and opportunities to engage with elected officials and government staff. Below are some highlights of their work from 2015.
The Credit Union Act Review Working Group met with with MPP Laura Albanese and Ministry of Finance staff to provide recommendations for the review of the Caisses Populaires Act (CUCPA). At roundtable discussions credit unions gave their input on topics related to the review including consumer protection, roles of regulators and options for implementation of any proposed changes to the legislation.
Ontario credit unions provided a submission on the review of the mandate of the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario and the Financial Services Commission of Ontario. Additional activities included a submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs pre-budget consultation, and a response to the Ministry of Finance’s consultation on strengthening consumer financial protection.
The Credit Unions of Ontario sponsored a lunch and had a booth at the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Niagara Falls, providing an opportunity to engage with municipal delegates.
In celebration of International Credit Union Day in October 2015 credit unions gathered at Queen’s Park to host a reception for MPPs. Among the elected officials who attended were Ontario Minister of Finance Charles Sousa, and MPP Laura Albanese who met with members and heard a presentation by Central 1 Chief Investment Officer Brent Clode.
Working together for positive policy
Credit unions found a strong supporter and partner in the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, who called on the provincial government to continue the small-business tax rate for credit unions in their 2016 official budget submission.
The Chamber’s submission says, “By standing alongside credit unions the Chamber is standing with small business in B.C. by ensuring that B.C.’s business markets have access to the necessary financing and banking services that credit unions provide.”
On behalf of Credit Unions of B.C., Central 1 coordinated pre-budget presentations across the province, which resulted in the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services recommending, for the third year in a row, that the provincial government indefinitely extend the small-business tax rate.
Credit union participation was the highest ever with credit unions presenting at nine of the 18 pre-budget hearings around the province.
Some choices matter
Where we choose to bank has a massive, collective impact to our local economies and communities. Yet this is a choice that most do not spend a lot of time thinking about it.
Launched in 2015, the “Some Choices Matter” video explains ‘the why’ banking at a credit union is an important decision, and it aims to get people to think – and talk about – how their choice of financial institution affects the communities they live in.
Shared by a network of member credit unions, key influencers and cooperative advocates, the video has ignited conversations across Canada about the impact of our financial choices.
Since it’s launch May 2015, it has been viewed on YouTube over 16,000 times and has reached more than 600,000 individuals on Facebook. Today the video is shared nationally on the websites of credit unions and cooperative organizations across Canada, and internationally in the United States, United Kingdom, and Brazil.
Coming together to give kids a strong start
Coming together to create something for the greater good is at the core of Success By 6, a special collaboration between Credit Unions of BC, aboriginal leaders, the Government of British Columbia, and the United Way that has been making a big difference in helping young children across the province thrive in their early years.
The program’s vision is to build the capacity of families and caregivers – no matter where they live in the province – so that their children are successful learners, engaged, and thriving by the time they begin kindergarten.
How have credit unions been involved?
Credit unions contribute 25 cents on behalf of each member to Success By
6 every year. With over 1.75 million credit union members in the province that adds up to over $400,000 each year and $3 million contributed over the past six years. In addition, credit unions participate in planning tables and help local Early Years Learning Councils with strategic planning and being available as advisors.
Thanks to this support, and that of the program’s partners, Success By 6 is able to fund over 350 programs and services in over 500 communities every year, reaching over 30 thousand children across British Columbia.
As Michael McKnight, CEO of the United Way of the Lower Mainland said in an interview with Enterprise Magazine: “When we bring the non-for-profit sector, government, and the for-profit sector – in this case, credit unions – we have a much greater ability to provide solutions that work.”
And that is a partnership worth coming together for.
Helping families plan for the future
Saving to pay for education is one of the most common goals for families looking to invest in their child’s future. However, it can also be one of the most challenging goals to start and continue over the long run.
In August 2015, B.C. credit unions were pleased to become the only financial institutions at the time to offer families help with applying for a new BC Training and Education Savings Grant (BCTESG) offered by the provincial government. On behalf of credit unions, Central 1 – in particular the Financial Services team – worked together to secure an RESP provider with the necessary software to deliver the project well before its deadline.
The grant is a one-time provincial incentive of $1,200 available to children when they turn six years old, and is payable to a Registered Education Savings Plan. Parents with children born between January 1, 2007 to August 15, 2009 need to apply for the grant before August 14, 2018. Parents with children born after August 15, 2009 must apply between their child’s sixth and ninth birthdays.
“Saving for a child’s education is one of the most important investments a parent will make,” says Don Wright. “This grant provides a great head start, and we’re pleased that credit unions across B.C. were the first financial institutions in the province able to make the application widely available to families.”
Helping support community members with dignity and sensitivity
As well as being a member of the Council to Reduce Elder Abuse, this year Central 1 staff participated in a panel on behalf of members, discussing financial abuse at the B.C. Notaries Society Conference. Central 1 participated in a number of initiatives throughout the province to help prevent financial abuse. One of those initiatives was helping create the document Making Your Workplace Dementia Friendly: Information for Financial Professionals.
During the summer of 2015, Central 1 collaborated with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. to create this resource which Central 1 provided to all member credit unions. The resource is meant to educate and help credit union staff better interact with members who may suffer from dementia, including recognizing the signs of financial abuse. More than 70,000 people in B.C. live with dementia and that number is expected to double within the next 20 years. As our members age, it is the hope that this document will help credit union staff better support people with dementia in an effective and respectful way.