First West Credit Union achieves strong 2014 results amid challenging market, merger activity

LANGLEY, B.C. (April 7, 2015) — First West Credit Union demonstrated strong financial performance in 2014 as it achieved a profit before tax of $39.4 million and balance sheet growth of $388 million, or 6.3 per cent, to $6.5 billion. The credit union also grew its membership by more than 6,500 members, a 3.7% net increase, marking a fifth straight year of membership growth. First West also contributed more than $1.8 million toward building healthier communities through the First West Foundation and signature causes such as Feed the Valley and The Full Cupboard. The investment brings First West’s five-year community investment total to $8.1 million.

The successful financial results were accomplished alongside work to merge with Island Savings Credit Union, now operating as a division of First West Credit Union.

“I’m tremendously proud of the First West Credit Union team for their dedication to helping our members achieve their financial goals and for their contributions to our business,” says First West Credit Union CEO Launi Skinner. “In addition, teams from across First West Credit Union and Island Savings worked tirelessly in 2014 to achieve the necessary approvals to move forward with the merger and to ensure we were ready to come together on January 1. In just a few short months, the benefits are already coming to fruition, including the successful launch of our Simply Free Account™ on April 1 and already one significant business banking deal that would have otherwise not been possible.”

First West Credit Union CFO Tom Webster also credits the organization’s earnings diversity and advice-based approach to member service for the strong results.

“We achieved financial results that were comparable to last year’s despite financial margin being diminished by the continuing tough interest rate environment, “ says Webster. “The breadth of our lines of business provides stability, as members not only find value in the banking advice we provide, but also in our insurance, wealth management, leasing, and sub-debt and mezzanine financing advice and services.”

First West Credit Union 2014 financial highlights

  • Total assets increased 6.3%, or $388 million, to $6.5 billion
  • Deposits from members increased 5.5%, or $299 million, to $5.7 billion
  • Loans to members increased 3.0%, or $160 million, to $5.6 billion
  • Income before tax decreased 3.6%, or $1.5 million, to $39.4 million
  • Membership grew by 3.7%, or 6,522 members, bringing our total net new members to nearly 26,000 since 2010
  • First West Credit Union paid dividends of $1.5 million to members, bringing total dividends paid to $6.8 million since 2010
  • More than $1.8 million was invested in building healthier communities, bringing our total to $8.1 million since 2010

2014 business highlights

Island Savings joins First West Credit Union
In Nov. 2014, Island Savings members voted “yes” in support of merging with First West Credit Union. Through First West Credit Union’s unique partnership model, Island Savings retains its local identity, local leadership, local decision-making and Island-centred community focus. As part of a larger organization, Island Savings also benefits from increased lending capacity that will help business members on the Islands grow and prosper. Local municipalities, universities, school districts and hospitals can also consider doing business with the Island Savings division because of the added strength and capital position offered by First West Credit Union. Island Savings became the newest First West Credit Union division on Jan. 1, 2015.

First West Credit Union invests in future-focused branch network
Staying true to its commitment to innovation and simple, advice-centred banking, First West Credit Union made substantial investments in its branch network in 2014. The credit union’s new concept branch achieved strong financial results since its opening in late June of last year. Located in Chilliwack’s Garrison Crossing neighbourhood and run under First West Credit Union’s Envision Financial division, the branch gained more than 540 net new members, achieved 180% of its non-interest income target and 170% of its insurance revenue target in the first six months of operation.

The new location departs from many of the trappings of the traditional bank branch. Gone are the tellers, wickets and queues, and desk-centred offices, giving way to spaces equipped with updated technology and a design that makes business more open and relational. Thanks to mobile devices, money advisors at the branch are also able to meet members where it’s most convenient for them, whether that be at their home or in their neighbourhood coffee shop. A forthcoming Envision Financial branch in Cloverdale’s Brick Yard Station will be also follow the refreshed branch concept.

The credit union also brought a more progressive feeling to its Valley First branch in Vernon in 2014. The branch was relocated and upgraded, benefiting credit union members with a modern, functional branch design that melds familiar local service with advanced technology like real-time video conferencing. The new location also brings member the convenience of being close to other amenities.

Recognizing the need for greater availability, First West Credit Union also extended hours across all branch and insurance locations of its Valley First division. The new opening hours and late-night Thursdays and Saturday branch openings boost members’ and clients’ access to services, advice and products.

One such product is the TFSA Early Bird Account, which takes an innovative approach to encouraging members to tap into the power of a tax-free savings. Designed for those who maximize their annual TFSA contributions, the account allows members to park additional TFSA-destined funds and earn interest while waiting for their annual contribution limit to reset. Once the limit resets on the new year, the funds are automatically transferred into the member’s TFSA high interest saving account.

First West Credit Union 2014 annual report now online
First West Credit Union’s online annual report and downloadable 2014 financial statements are now available, featuring management’s discussion and analysis, 2014 successes and highlights from our regional divisions.

Annual General Meeting
The 2015 First West Credit Union AGM sessions will be held as follows:

  • May 7, 2015, in the Valley First Region at the Four Points by Sheraton, Kelowna, B.C.
  • May 11, 2015, in the Envision Region at Ramada Plaza, Abbotsford, B.C.
  • May 12, 2015, in the Island Savings Region at Island Savings Centre, Duncan, B.C.

Registration for all meetings opens at 6 p.m. and meetings commence at 7 p.m.

For more information on the AGMs, visit

About First West Credit Union
First West Credit Union offers members the financial strength, comprehensive product selection and extended branch network of a large financial institution while maintaining local brand identities and a unique grassroots approach to service. Led by Launi Skinner, First West is British Columbia’s third-largest credit union with $10 billion in assets under administration, nearly 240,000 members and more than 1,700 employees. It operates 54 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial, Valley First, Enderby & District Financial and Island Savings brands. Visit for more information on First West Credit Union.

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Media Contact
Jason Brown
Manager, Public Relations & Communications