First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union
Island Savings

Island Savings

September 17, 2014 14:04 ET

Island Savings Members to Vote on Merger With First West Credit Union

Strong majority of Island Savings employees indicate in recent employee engagement survey that senior leaders at Island Savings are positioning the credit union for long-term success

DUNCAN, BRITISH COLUMBIA and LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Sept. 17, 2014) - Island Savings and First West Credit Union today announced they are moving forward with next steps in their proposed merger.

As a democratically-led cooperative, Island Savings members must vote on special resolutions before the organizations can legally come together at year-end. Voting will take place by mail-in ballot or in person at any branch from November 5 to November 12, 2014. The results of the vote will be announced on the Island Savings and First West websites on November 14, 2014.

When the Island Savings and First West boards announced in fall 2013 they were entering discussions, First West board chair Shawn Neumann and Island Savings board chair James McKenzie noted several benefits the arrangement would bring the Island-based credit union's stakeholders, including:

  • Island Savings keeps its name, local leadership, local decision-making and community focus.
  • Improved pricing, products and service delivery for Island Savings members.
  • Protection for employees due to no layoffs as a direct result of the merger. Both organizations currently operate and will continue to use a distributed, multi-site administration centre model.
  • No branch closures as a result of the merger as First West and Island Savings have no branch overlaps.
  • Increased lending capacity for small- and mid-sized businesses due to combined financial resources.
  • Extension of non-banking services, such as auto financing, to Island communities.
  • Greater economic and geographic diversity. A broader footprint across the province allows the local organizations to better weather local economic challenges or pressures.
  • One of the most extensive credit union networks in B.C., extending from the central and south Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands, through to the Fraser Valley, north to Kitimat and throughout the south central interior.

Following months of due diligence, the business case was submitted to the regulator, the Financial Institutions Commission, in November 2013 after the boards found there was a very compelling proposition in the two credit unions coming together.

Quotes

"This is great news for Island Savings and for the 70,000 members who do business with us," says Rod Dewar, Island Savings CEO. "With First West, we can offer Island families and businesses some of the most competitive products in the marketplace-without having to give up the local decision-making, local name and local community investment Islanders count on from us."

Dewar adds, "Island Savings employees are excited about joining First West and the career growth opportunities that will be available to them. In fact, our 2014 employee engagement results, recently measured by Aon Hewitt, show a record-high employee engagement. In addition, 91 per cent of respondents strongly agreed with the statement, 'senior leaders are taking action to position our organization for long-term success.' This is a clear indication of their support for our proposal to join First West."

"Our members are attuned to the economic realities around us," says James McKenzie, board chair of Island Savings. "That's why our credit union has been able to steer through the economic challenges of the past five years and still remain strong. We want to preserve this successful financial legacy and we can do that through this innovative partnership. By joining up with a similarly strong credit union like First West, we can serve even more Islanders how, when and where they want."

"First West is inspired by one of our 6 Big Ideals-Act Local-because we have unique communities across British Columbia that deserve a local focus when it comes to their banking needs," says Launi Skinner, First West CEO. "The Valley First team in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys; the Enderby & District Financial team in the North Okanagan; and the Envision Financial team in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, and Kitimat are all dedicated to making a meaningful difference in the financial lives of their members and the prosperity of their communities."

Skinner adds, "The strength of the First West model is in preserving that genuine focus on working local and maintaining our credit union values. We'll continue to honour this local focus and commitment to Island Savings' members on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands."

"Our boards found there was very compelling member and community value in our two organizations coming together," says Shawn Neumann, board chair, First West. "Because of the nature of the arrangement, Island Savings members are required to vote. However, we will be holding information meetings for First West members too to provide more information on the value proposition and hear their feedback. We're committed to acting locally and listening, so we're looking forward to hearing and learning from our members."

Important dates for Island Savings members

September 26:
Member information package mailed to Island Savings members
October 14 to 22:
Member Information Sessions - dates, times and locations available in the member information package and on the Island Savings website at iscu.com/firstwest
November 5 to November 12:
Voting will take place by mail-in ballot or in person at any branch-before close of business on November 12, 2014
November 14:
Results of the vote announced on the Island Savings website

Important dates for First West members

September 23 to October 20:
Member Information Sessions - dates, times and locations available on the First West website at:
firstwestcu.ca/infosessions
November 14:
Results of the vote announced on the First West website

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 $7.7 billion in assets under administration, more than 177,000 members and close to 1,300 employees. It operates 39 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial, Valley First and Enderby & District Financial brands. For more information on First West Credit Union, visit firstwestcu.ca.

About Island Savings

Island Savings is the Islands' most recommended banking experience. As a Top 50 Best Employer and Top 30 Greenest Companies in Canada, its neighbourhood experts offer financial, insurance and investment advice and products to over 100,000 Islanders. Managing a total portfolio of $2.9B under administration, Island Savings is investing $15 million from 2012 to 2015 to expand their branch network and all service delivery platforms. Since 2010, their successful Growing Island Families Together (GIFT) program has proudly given over $7M back to the community. For more information on Island Savings, visit iscu.com.

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