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Credit Unions Continue to Raise the Bar in Customer Experience


​Credit Unions have a lot of great things going for them including local decision making, concern for community and all the things that resonate true co-operative values. This hasn’t changed in recent years, but what has changed is almost everything else! Gone are the days when credit unions would humbly stand by and be modest about their capabilities and innovation. Today, credit unions are designing and promoting products that reflect their co-operative values and offer customers something different than banks. They provide the opportunity to be an owner in your financial institution, to have a seat at the board table and to ensure that profits won’t be earned to the detriment of customers and / or members.

With a credit union, as a member you are also an owner, so as profitability of your credit union rises, you directly benefit. The profits are then invested in your community, they are invested in people (who also happen to be member-owners) and they are even returned back to member-owners in the form of patronage. So, what does this mean? It means that credit unions are offering highly competitive savings accounts, no-fee chequing accounts and competitive mortgage rates that banks have trouble offering beyond a promotional term. With banks, you often hear about increases in account fees, not decreases, contrary to what we are seeing in Canada’s credit unions.

Here are a few examples:

Starting in 2015 in Saskatchewan, you saw Conexus, Cornerstone and Innovation credit unions offering a no-fee chequing account. This isn’t a promotion, this is a new reality and one that they felt was in the best interest of their members. Conexus has offered this, while still continuing to promote their drive towards financial literacy and offering complimentary webinars for business owners through the Conexus Business Accelerator program.

There is a similar drive in Alberta, where Connect First Credit Union has had a no-fee account for a number of years and credit unions are offering alternatives to pay day loans with a much more attractive rate to help stop the cycle of debt for at-risk individuals.

Alterna Savings, an Ontario based credit union and its bank subsidiary, Alterna Bank, has a no- fee chequing account, and a competitive rate high-interest savings account, yet still provides a preferred experience to its customers. Similarly, in Ontario, you see Meridian Credit Union, Ontario’s largest credit union, expanding its reach into banking and leasing for the benefit of its member-owners. 

Several other examples of decisions made for the benefit of member-owners are now occurring throughout B.C., Manitoba and the Atlantic provinces as well. We’re living in a very competitive business landscape. At the end of the day, credit unions want our banking business and they’re willing to earn it!

Contact Annette Bester, CPA, CA, at 306.664.8237 or [email protected]