Laying the foundation for a sustainable future
When I reflect on 2021, it was a year where we found improved clarity at Central 1. Despite an ongoing pandemic with global health and macroeconomic impacts, we adapted with resilience and a renewed focus on enabling credit unions and organizations that provide financial choice to Canadians.
To fulfill this role, we took a step back and challenged ourselves to better view the world through the lens of our members and clients – to understand that your success is our success. We recognized a shift was needed to continue serving you with the level of excellence you expect from us, now and into the future. With this in mind, we released our 2021 – 2023 Corporate Strategy, with a key focus on positioning ourselves to deliver the essential elements for a thriving credit union system.
Our Corporate Strategy provides the roadmap for Central 1’s direction for the next three years through three core pillars:
- Redesign to meet the system’s evolving needs
- Operate effectively, consistently and with agility
- Modernize how we deliver value to the system
These priorities leverage our competitive advantages of collaboration, scale, and expertise, and they combine business and cooperative leadership to provide banking choice to Canadians and enable credit union success. We are committed to investing more time speaking with our members, our clients, our employees and our partners to better understand how we can best deliver on expectations, and to ensure we offer products and programs to keep our members and clients competitive. Through the year, Digital, Payments and Treasury services focused on delivery of client centric experiences while we also worked to heighten operational effectiveness and efficiency.
Continued positive momentum
Central 1 reported a profit for the year from continuing operations of $45.4 million, an increase of $19.1 million in profit compared to 2020. Despite continued uncertainty due to the global pandemic, Central 1 delivered strong earnings and remained dedicated to providing diverse products and services for our clients. We know that working together is key to the ongoing success of our credit union system and this will continue in all of our efforts and initiatives for 2022.
Paving the way for Payments Modernization
Within Payments, Central 1 made progress across the roadmap for Payments Modernization within the Canadian payments system. Our strategy is designed to position the credit union system and financial services industry for growth and innovation in this space. The Payments team prioritized connection with our clients and members through the introduction of several committees and interactive webinars, while working with banking hosts and vendors to simplify processes for a seamless client experience.
There were several launches of significance this year, including the first phase of Interac e-Transfer® for Business, Lynx Release I and Central 1’s Enterprise Fraud Management (EFM) Solution. We established a strategic partnership with financial services technology provider Fiserv, and we achieved compliance to a new SWIFT global mandate.
Support for our clients and communities
Incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into our investing activities continues to be an important and growing part of Central 1’s investing framework. In 2021, 12.3 per cent of Central 1’s investment portfolio consisted of green, social or sustainable securities – substantially exceeding our UN Principles of Responsible Investment commitment of five per cent. The Treasury team also launched and saw strong growth for Asset Management Services (AMS) through 2021, where credit unions can access advice to manage securities and understand market trends, while we continue portfolio rebalancing to comply with liquidity regulatory requirements and optimize return in accordance with investment mandates.
Elevating the Digital Experience
Within Digital, Central 1 continued to assess and adapt its products with members and clients in mind. We focussed primarily on digital transformation through 2021, with several initiatives in progress including implementing a new Content Management System; introducing the evolved Forge 2.0; and bringing the new iterations of the Forge Digital Banking Platform offerings for Forge Retail and Small Business to life. At the end of 2021, 122 clients were committed to Forge 2.0, a significant sign of confidence in Central 1’s ability to deliver for the system.
While we delivered many challenging and complex projects through the year, we also understand the importance of assessing areas for improvement. The team has remained committed to operational efficiency and implementation delivery, with initiatives in place for enhanced communication and updates to keep our clients and members informed and excited for their digital improvements. As our objective is to provide you with digital banking experiences that align to your business and member needs, we intend to listen and communicate with our clients – with you – along the way.
We have a strong balance sheet, diverse business lines and a deep understanding of our members and clients. Building on our achievements in 2021 and the successful delivery of our corporate strategy, Central 1 will continue to be innovative and adaptable to support the success of our members, clients and the credit union system.
We remain firmly committed to contributing the essentials of a thriving credit union system. As we aim to redesign our processes, focus on operating more effectively and modernizing how we deliver value, we will work with you every step of the way and evolve not just as an organization, but as a community. Our lines of business will continue to have high-quality products and services to best serve your members and customers.
As we continue on this journey together, there is a lot to be proud of and a lot still to accomplish. We know that continuously listening, assessing and evolving is imperative to ensuring our clients are empowered in their needs of today and tomorrow. We are grateful for the many voices that work with us each day and are clearly invested in Central 1’s present and future.
I would like to offer a big thank you to the Central 1 team who have continually demonstrated their resilience and commitment to our organization’s success. And to our members and clients, we look forward to continuing to support you through 2022.