Board Structure

First West's board of directors is responsible for overseeing and stewarding the credit union's operations on behalf of members.

The credit union's rules allow for a board of 12 directors, rising on a short-term basis to as many as 15 to accommodate a merger. Directors are elected for three-year terms and may be re-elected, with no limit on the number of terms a director may serve. Each year, the directors elect a chair and vice-chair.

To assist it with its work, the board has established a number of standing committees, including:

More information about the board's responsibilities is included in the Board Charter document. In-depth information about First West's committees are available by clicking on the link of each committee charter, or refer to firstwestcu.ca/leading/board committes.

Documents & Resources

Director Responsibilities

Being a First West director is a big responsibility. While management oversees the day-to-day operation of the credit union, the board of directors provides guidance on long-range objectives, determines policy and monitors the credit union’s overall progress. It’s a job that demands a significant investment in time, energy and expertise.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Fulfilling a number of statutory duties specified in the Credit Union Incorporation Act and Financial Institutions Act
  • Acquiring and continually upgrading knowledge about the financial services industry, all aspects of First West's business, regulatory issues and the business environment in general
  • Attending all meetings, unless there are significant extenuating circumstances
  • Preparing thoroughly for board and committee meetings and making a positive contribution to those meetings
  • Keeping informed about activities occurring within the areas served by First West
  • Serving on committees of the board
  • Undertaking all required director training and keeping current on evolving corporate governance standards and practices
  • Acting as an ambassador of First West

More information on a director's role and responsibilities is included in the Director Position Description document included on this page.

Board Committees

Directors are required to serve on committees of the board that carry out legislated and delegated duties. These committees include:

Audit and Conduct Review

The Audit and Conduct Review Committee is responsible for fulfilling the credit union’s statutory duty to maintain an audit committee and conduct review committee as per Section 39.56 of the Credit Union Incorporation Act and Section 112 of the Financial Institutions Act respectively. The committee assists the board in fulfilling its obligations and oversight responsibilities related to the audit process and financial reporting, ensures the requirements for dealing with related-party transactions set out in the Financial Institutions Act are met and appropriate procedures are in place, oversees the process for reviewing directors’ conduct and oversees procedures for resolving conflicts of interest, restricting the use of confidential information and handling member complaints. The committee consists of a minimum of three members elected by the board on the recommendation of the board chair. For more information read the Audit and Conduct Review Committee Charter


Governance and Nominations

The Governance and Nominations Committee oversees key elements of the First West board of directors’ operations, including corporate governance principles, practices and oversight, board assessment, evaluation and renewal, director recruitment, nominations and elections and director orientation, education and development. The committee consists of a minimum of five members elected by the board on the recommendation of the board chair. Ideally each committee member will also be a member of at least one other committee to ensure informed governance discussions. For more information read the Governance and Nominations Charter


Government Relations and Partnership

Guides management in advancing First West’s multi-brand operating model. The committee reviews and counsels management on First West’s partnership strategy, monitors government relations activities and advocates for favourable legislative and regulatory environments that will allow First West to achieve its strategic goals. The committee also represents the board in discussions with potential partners. The committee consists of the board chair, board vice-chair and two other directors appointed annually on the recommendation of the board chair. For more information, read the Government Relations and Partnership Committee Charter


Human Resources

The Human Resources Committee is responsible for assisting the board with respect to all matters relating to human resources, ensuring sound human resources policies and practices are in place and are consistent with First West’s values, vision, risk appetite and strategic plan. The committee consists of not less than three and not more than five members. Committee members and the committee chair are appointed by the board on the recommendation of the board chair. For more information read the Human Resources Charter


Risk, Investment and Loan

The Risk, Investment and Loan Committee is responsible for fulfilling the statutory duties related to investments and lending of financial institutions detailed in Section 135 of the Financial Institutions Act, recommending board approval of and overseeing the credit union’s risk appetite and enterprise risk management framework, reviewing and recommending to the board for its approval and filing with FICOM written investment and loan policies for the credit union and its subsidiaries, which the committee considers consistent with the Financial Institutions Act prudent standards and within the credit union’s investment and loan strategy. The committee consists of a minimum of three members elected by the board on the recommendation of the board chair. At least one member of the committee shall be an officer of the credit union. For more information read the Risk, Investment and Loan Committee Charter


Board Effectiveness, Renewal and Diversity

The First West board's focus on effectiveness, renewal and diversity ensures the board successfully upholds and fulfills its leadership and oversight responsibilities to members. It also ensures the board remains abreast of changes in the financial services industry, government relations and the credit union's evolving strategic direction and that its members as a whole possess the qualities, attributes, experience and skills required to effectively steward the organization.

This process begins by identifying the key characteristics desired of directors. It continues with the board regularly monitoring its effectiveness and the effectiveness of individual directors through formal and informal evaluations. Where opportunities are identified to improve effectiveness, directors are supported through ongoing education and development.

The board also focuses on continually renewing itself, replacing directors who retire or unexpectedly resign or changing the board's makeup to help it achieve long-term success and better cope with changes to the internal and external business environment.

Finally, the board recognizes that diversity is an essential element in attracting high-calibre directors, maintaining a high-functioning board and building a competitive advantage. The board considers diversity in determining the optimum composition of the board and its committees and takes steps to ensure its membership is balanced appropriately.

Rules & Policies

Like all governing bodies, the First West board of directors is guided by a number of important policies. And as a credit union, First West has a set of formal rules. The rules and some of the most important policies include:

First West Credit Union Rules: All credit unions are required to have a set of rules that govern its conduct. The rules include high-level guidance on how memberships may be acquired or withdrawn, how shares and deposits are treated, how borrowing and lending is conducted, how directors are elected, how general meetings are conducted and more.

Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Policy: This policy outlines the standards of conduct imposed by law, provides guidelines for honest and ethical conduct and offers guidance to help directors recognize and deal with ethical issues that may arise during their tenure, and defines conflicts of interest that may arise and how conflicts must be disclosed and managed.

Political Relationships and Activities Policy: This policy describes how First West, which is an non-partisan organization, approaches political contributions and states the limitations on using political contributions to engage in political activities. It also defines the financial contributions or in-kind contributions that are considered political contributions under election legislation.

Whistleblower Policy: Employees are often the first to realize there may be something wrong within an organization. They may not express their concerns, however, because they feel speaking up would be disloyal. They may also fear recrimination, harassment or victimization and feel it would be easier to ignore the concern. This policy outlines the process employees may use to report suspected wrongdoing, and clarifies that no employee who reports in good faith will face any adverse outcome.