LANGLEY, B.C. – DBRS Limited (DBRS Morningstar) has confirmed a Long-Term Issuer Rating of BBB (high) and both a Short-Term Issuer Rating and a Short-Term Instruments Rating of R-1 (low) for First West Credit Union, noting that the trend on all ratings is stable.
The ratings reflect First West’s position as the third-largest credit union in B.C. and the fifth-largest in Canada, with total assets and assets under management of $15.5 billion. They also indicate the credit union’s well-established market position and diversified product suite through its community-based regional brands, Envision Financial, Valley First, Enderby and District Financial and Island Savings. Notably, the report highlights First West’s strong earnings power, as well as solid liquidity and capital positions. The Credit Union has generated solid recurring earnings that are underpinned by a higher contribution from non-interest income compared with its peers.
Importantly, the ratings also mention the continued economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and First West’s desire to grow and gain access to markets beyond B.C. by becoming federally regulated.
“First West’s financial strength and stability continue to put us in a position to garner strong credit ratings even amid uncertain times,” says Mark Moreland, Chief Financial Officer at First West Credit Union. “As we prepare to request our member’s permission to apply to become a federal credit union, our membership can be assured by this rating and know that with more options for future growth and investment, we will be better positioned to serve our members in a rapidly changing world.”
Other release highlights
- With a sizable capital buffer relative to regulatory minimums and high-quality capital, First West’s capitalization levels are viewed by DBRS Morningstar as strong.
- Asset quality at First West remains strong, reflecting the Credit Union’s conservative risk profile and solid track record of credit performance with most credit metrics remaining at relatively low and manageable levels.
- First West continues to generate some of the best returns amongst credit union peers, with a return on average member equity of 7.7% in 2020.