Thursday, January 10, 2019
Credit Unions. Banks. In a lot of ways, there are more similarities than differences. We both offer similar products and services: chequing and savings accounts, loans and mortgages, investment products, and online and mobile banking options. But there are several key differentiators that set credit unions apart from chartered banks….
Hi, I’m Cory Munden, CEO of YOUR Leading Edge Credit Union. Did you notice how I said “your” credit union? That’s because, as a shareholder, you are also an equal owner. Credit unions are member-owned, democratically-controlled co-operative financial institutions. They are run by a volunteer board of directors elected by the membership. Each shareholder has one vote. By contrast, bank customers don't have voting rights, can't be elected to the board, and have no control over what the bank does. The governance of credit unions is in the hands of its members. In fact, it is one of the seven co-operative principles that guide the operations of all credit unions. The seven principles are:
à Voluntary and Open Membership
à Democratic Member Control
à Member Economic Participation
à Autonomy and Independence
à Education, Training and Information
à Co-operation among Co-operatives
à Concern for Community
I could go into detail about how Leading Edge Credit Union lives each of these principles, but perhaps that is a topic for another time. For now, I’d like to focus on one: democratic member control. This brings me to the reason for this message to you (thanks for reading, by the way). With our annual general meeting just around the corner, between now and January 25th, Leading Edge Credit Union will once again invite our membership to consider serving on the board of directors. “What do the directors of a credit union do?” you might ask. Well, as policy makers, directors are instrumental in effecting positive changes, which ensure growth and development for their Credit Union and community. Directors often provide a fresh look from a different perspective, assisting a credit union in being responsive to member needs and leading to technological innovation and new services. It is important for a Credit Union to have a strong board consisting of a diverse group of people. Directors come from all walks of life... teachers, trades people, homemakers, farmers, nurses, and business professionals — just to name a few. If you believe financial institutions best serve the people who use their services every day and the communities in which those people live, you can make a real contribution; you can help your community prosper!
Board service is not without its benefits to you, the individual. It offers excellent professional development opportunities, the ability to personally contribute to enhancing your community’s own financial institution, the opportunity to participate in local, regional, national and international networking opportunities, and training through an accredited national directors training program. At Leading Edge Credit Union, we can also do our very best to accommodate your busy schedule. Many of our directors take advantage of technology to participate in meetings. As a director, you would receive an annual remuneration, and all board related expenses are covered at no cost to you. You would also benefit from insurance coverage to protect against personal liabilities.
Credit unions are driven by both economic and social concerns. They are community-based organizations that care not only about the bottom line of their business, but also the needs of their members and the quality of life in their communities. I strongly urge you to consider the role that you could play in guiding Leading Edge Credit Union into the future. For more information on our upcoming election, please call our corporate office at 695-7065 or visit our website at www.lecu.ca. I look forward to hearing from you. Together we can ensure that Leading Edge Credit Union continues to be the best option for financial services for its member-owners!
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Credit Union Day
October 18th is Credit Union Day! So, what is the big deal? The credit union, after all, is simply a supplier of financial services in the banking industry; there is nothing sexy about that! Too often, the consumer’s focus is on comparing products and services of credit unions versus big bank competitors. Its natural to compare an interest rate or service charge when choosing a financial service provider but there is so much more to consider. Credit Union Day provides the opportunity to focus on the credit union difference, so consumers can see that it truly is better to do business with a credit union. This blog highlights a few key credit union differences.
An important distinction is the concept of ownership. A member of a credit union is an owner; they can contribute to the successful operation of the organization. Now, this might not be something most people are interested in. When our members were polled only 21% agreed that this was important to them. This is fine, but the ownership concept extends well beyond credit union governance. Ownership means that the credit union works for you, the owner. When a typical business or a bank makes a decision, who does that decision usually benefit the most? The answer is the owners, the major shareholders, the people or companies who stand to make the most profit from the decision, not necessarily the customers. But in the case of credit unions, the owners are the customers. And because our customers control us, democratically, we ALWAYS act in the best interests of our members.
Leading Edge Credit Union actually embedded this focus in our vision which states that “we strive to assist all our members to meet their financial goals by providing advice and services with a focus on the members’ best interests.” When you deal with us, you can rest assured that our focus is on your best interests. But you don’t have to take my work for it! Our most recent member survey tells us that 92.76% of our members feel that LECU acts in their best interests. In fact, nationally, credit unions have placed #1 in customer service for 14 consecutive years. So, if you want honest financial advice from a financial institution that truly has your back, then seek out a credit union. Oh, and by the way, if the credit union is successful, you share in the success. LECU has returned over $644,000 back to our members in the form of dividends and patronage rebates. And that’s on top of offering great rates and banking packages! It’s really an easy decision.
Another feature that sets us apart from our competitors is our role in our communities. Community capacity building and support is in the DNA of credit unions. We are built on the foundation of 7 co-operative principles. One of these principles is ‘concern for community’. To illustrate our commitment to thriving communities, LECU operates in two communities where banks had closed branches deeming the community too “unprofitable”. . Leading Edge Credit Union instead chooses to focus on supporting the social-economic development of communities. This statement is supported by the many great things that LECU does within our communities such as volunteering, sponsorships and donations, educational programming, and environmental initiatives. We know that the well-being of your community is important to you; LECU has always and will always play a significant role in supporting strong and vibrant communities. To-date in 2018, our staff members have contributed 322 hours of volunteer time during work hours and a whopping 904 personal volunteer hours in their communities. LECU has also supported over 93 community organizations this year!On this International Credit Union Day, we have a lot to celebrate! So if you haven’t done so yet, maybe it’s time to check us out and start your journey towards a better financial future for you while helping build a stronger community for everyone.
Friday, April 6, 2018
I am just nearing completion of a kitchen renovation; for those of you who that have ever renovated a piece of your home, you can relate to the fun of living through a construction zone. Surprisingly, the construction was actually the least stressful part, mainly due to a patient and understanding contractor. The main issues I ran into was with suppliers who failed to address a simple fundamental business concept: SERVICE! My new Samsung dishwasher came complete with a faulty part that caused it to leak and (thankfully) display an error code. Calls to the warranty department were met with roadblocks after roadblocks, with staff not really caring about relationship building or developing loyalty, instead following a scripted process that made little sense. A simple repair of a $50 retail part after three weeks turned into a moving truck taking away my new dishwasher--apparently, that was cheaper than having someone come and repair the unit! As I still await my refund, I can’t help but think the process does not have the best interests of the customer in mind. I don’t have a dishwasher or the money I paid for it a full month after I purchased the unit.
I am simply one of millions of customers that purchase Samsung products and I guess my business is not important. After all, the company’s main focus is on driving profit and meeting share price expectations for its shareholders who are not necessarily their customers. They must produce quality products otherwise sales would suffer, but why neglect the service? Sales and service should compliment one another, adding customer value. The problem lies with ownership! I have little influence over Samsung polices, procedures, products, services, or staffing. I am a consumer so I simply consume the goods produced by the company if I like them, and that is where it ends.
The Credit Union model is fundamentally different, a fact which most members are likely not even aware of. To use the services of a credit union you must first become an owner. You purchase your shares which then provides you with access to all the products and services the credit union offers. The shares you pay makes you an invested owner with also means that you have input on how your credit union is run and ways in which it may be improved. Most members simply want to avail of the products and services--and there is nothing wrong with that--but it is always nice to know that, as an owner, your opinion is valued and taken seriously. I know I wish my concern on my dishwasher could have been heard or taking seriously but that was not the case.
The vision statement of LECU was changed to focus on assisting members reach their financial goals with their best interests in mind. The focus is on people, not profit, and initiatives, such as low fees, more services, and a strong focus on advice, are put in place to support this vision.
In the most recent member survey, members indicated that 97.2% were satisfied with their relationship with LECU. In the word cloud that was captured when members were asked why they feel this way, the word service was prominent in member responses. Members are the owners; the purpose of the staff is to serve the owners daily and ensure they assist them in meeting their financial goals. It is vital that we continue to have the necessary policies, procedures, and standards in place to continue to provide superior service.