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Access reports another strong year

Lauren MacGill

Access Credit Union CEO Larry Davey. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

Access Credit Union CEO Larry Davey. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

In a period where many credit unions are shutting down, Access Credit Union reported another strong year.

147 members attended the credit union’s AGM on April 3.

Right now, the trend is toward fewer and larger credit unions. In 2000, there were 65 credit unions. Now, there are 28, with 3 mergers proposed for this year. “In a time that’s very challenging with regulatory and technology changes, we [had] strong growth,” Access Credit Union CEO Larry Davey said. “We’re very proud of our growth. The credit union has probably grown more than $1 billion in the last five years, and that helps us be that much more effective in sustaining our communities.”

ACU’s total assets come to just under $2.5 billion, with their net income rising from $12.4 million in 2016 to $13.3 million in 2017.

“We’re really watching our efficiency level and how we control costs,” Davey said. “Any savings we can make we’re trying to pass that on to the members. There are a number of credit unions, and most of them are small, that are struggling in maintaining all the technology and costs of regulation and still make a profit.”

Last year, ACU gave $563,310 back to the community, including a $250,000 donation to Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) Air Ambulance. That equates to about $10.73 per member.

“We are always looking for something that will fit our footprint and something that serves our areas,” Davey said. “We saw STARS as a [good] fit. We feel it’s our duty to assist our communities in any way we can, and the health side is a big side for us.”

ACU employees also volunteered just over 8,100 hours in the community, with over 95 per cent of employees getting involved. The most hours volunteered by a single employee was 230.

“We’re big believers in sustaining our communities,” Davey said. “We had more than 8,000 hours of volunteer time, which is significant in assisting those organizations.”

ACU was also named one of Manitoba’s top employers for the fourth year in a row. “We look at numerous ways we can support our staff,” Davey said. “We start with compensation and benefits, but we’re also providing the training and access to education that is going to help our staff in dealing with members long-term. The ability for staff to contribute their time to the community is also looked on as an effective way of helping employees.”

One of the trends Davey said the credit union saw was toward new technologies. “We continue to have people use us more and more, but more people are utilizing all the other channels but the branch,” he said. “We’re now down to 10 per cent of transactions at the branch. We have about 50 per cent of our members that weren’t in a branch last year. With 52,000 members, that’s a lot of people we have to think about that we’re not seeing face to face.”

In order to keep up with the changing landscape, ACU will be opening an Innovation Centre between Winkler and Morden. “It’s basically a footprint of what we see as the branch of the future,” Davey said. “We’re trying to gauge if that’s the correct size, open it up to people to come there to learn about all the technology so it’ll make their lives easier.”

Davey anticipates that the centre should be open by the beginning of May.

ACU will see a hit over the next few years, as the provincial government is doing away with a tax credit that was given to credit unions 40 years ago that gives them a reduction on their taxes because of their inability to go to the market and raise funds like banks. The tax credit will be removed over a 5 year period, which Davey said will cost ACU approximately $4 million.

Davey said the credit union is always looking into new technologies going forward. ACU has Google Pay and Davey said Apple Pay will be coming in the near future.