Posted: May 30, 2019
Welcome to the Spring edition of our Update Newsletter! As you can see on the front page, we recently had enjoyable annual meetings in both Lethbridge and Edmonton. It is always a pleasure to connect with the members we serve.
The theme of this year’s annual report and our annual meeting was to “Find Contentment with Your Finances.” We chose this theme and we are using this phrase in more of our communication because we believe “contentment” is what God desires for us with respect to our relationships with our money and possessions. In 1 Timothy 6:6 the Holy Spirit teaches us: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
In 1 Timothy 6:9-10 the Spirit goes on to explain, “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
As you can tell from these verses, money can have a significant impact on our lives. Our encouragement comes from the promise that, if we can help people find contentment with their finances it will be “great gain.” We believe that if our Credit Union can help our members to find contentment it will go a long way towards achieving our vision “to be the recognized leader in applying Christian values to financial services.”
Is the “love of money” really a problem for our members? I wouldn’t say that I love money and yet I have to admit that I am not always content. At our annual meetings I shared an article written by Tim Challies that argues that the majority of us in North America suffer from a disease called “Affluenza.” Affluenza is defined by three symptoms:
- A Lack of Contentment
- An Attitude of Self Dependence
- A Lack of Gratitude
I think that we can agree that we all struggle with these symptoms in some way.
Now we are not suggesting that we only want members who have contentment all figured out. I know I struggle with each of these symptoms and I am reasonably certain this would also be the case for all of the Credit Union staff and Board. The point is not that we want to be better than others. The point is that when we join together as Christians we can help each other avoid the “griefs” described in 1 Timothy 6. We see the role of the Credit Union to be a guide for our members on the road to contentment. To help guide our members we have started recommending a Map to Financial Contentment that we have obtained through Financial Discipleship Canada. When you are struggling to find contentment, sometimes it helps to start with some small steps to get you on the right path.
This approach is resonating with our existing and potential members. We are excited to report that, as awareness of our Credit Union grows in the broader Christian community, God is working in the hearts of people to move their banking to Christian Credit Union. Many people are thrilled to hear that there is a Christian option in the banking world.
Before I wrap up my comments, I need to mention a couple of things related to the people who serve you at the Credit Union. On June 3, Pete Peters will start his role as Director, Member Experience and his family will follow shortly after as they move here from Ontario. Welcome Pete! You will also notice that we are adding a few more new faces in Rebecca, Ryan, Mikayla and Coleen without any staff departing. The reason for this is that a number of our staff are expecting to be new moms for the first or second time. We realize that our members have seen a number of new staff faces over the past several years. A lot of that has been related to the fact that we have accommodated or are accommodating 9 maternity leaves over the last few years. We appreciate your patience and we hope you will join us in celebrating the gift of new life in many young families connected to our Credit Union.
Blessings to you all!
Posted: January 14, 2019
From my family to yours, I hope you all had a blessed Christmas season and you are excited for the plans God has in store for you in 2019. I realize that the Christmas season is not easy for everyone and that we will have our ups and downs in 2019. Whatever happens God has promised to be with us. Praise God that He is faithful and we can rely on Him!
In my last CEO message I shared with you our recently approved Vision, Mission and Values. In this message, I would like to share with you our plans (also known as strategic objectives) that we hope to achieve over the next three years. At our last strategic planning meeting our Board has defined our success as follows:
We will succeed by achieving the following strategic objectives by 2021:
- Intentionally define how we will apply Christian values to our employees and our services by January 2019;
- Create increasing awareness of Christian Credit Union resulting in achieving growth in active membership by a minimum of 15% by 2021 (growth rate to gradually increase over time);
- Develop and implement a technology plan that will enable our transition to a digital organization resulting in improved member services without negatively impacting profitability.
Given the timeliness of the first strategic objective, intentionally defining how we will apply Christian values to our employees and services has been given the most focus so far. We have deepened our partnership with Kingdom Advisors Canada and Financial Discipleship Canada to develop a training program that will enable our staff to understand what the Bible says about our relationship to our money and possessions. Once we build up our knowledge, we will look for creative ways that we can apply this to the services we offer to help our members find contentment with their finances.
In connection with this we have made it our current corporate focus to “Embrace Being a Financial Ambassador for Christ”. An ambassador is a person who represents someone or something and in 2 Corinthians 5:20a we are all called to be ambassadors:
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.
To be clear, Christian Credit Union is not a church and the church has the primary role to spread the gospel as ambassadors of Christ, not our Credit Union. This is why we used the term “financial” ambassadors. Our Credit Union’s purpose is to help people and organizations apply Christian values to financial services. We are excited to go on this stewardship journey together and we hope you are too!
One of the most rewarding parts of being a CEO is to provide training to our staff and see them grow and develop their talents and discover God’s plan for their life. During the past year this training and development has resulted in a few of our employees discovering that God’s plan is for them to move on to a new career path. This will lead to the need to hire some new people to serve at the Credit Union. Although changes in personnel always comes with some anxiety, there is a well known saying that “it is better to train employees and watch them leave than not to train them and have them stay!” We pray that God will bless the employees moving on to new careers and opportunities and we hope that the biblical stewardship principles learned at the Credit Union can be shared with others in their new places of employment.
One area where we will have some continuity is on the Board where both Henry Bosch and John Jagersma have agreed to be nominated to serve a second term on the Board. Thanks to the membership for the confidence that they have shown in these nominees. Since no additional nominees have been put forward by the membership, Henry and John will be declared elected by acclamation at our AGM in March.
Finally, I am pleased to report that we enjoyed another profitable year in 2018. Our return on average assets (“ROAA”) was 50 basis points in 2018. This is slightly below our results from last year but is equal to or better than the results over the past 5 years. Part of the reason for the decline is that the strains being experienced by our economy in Alberta is starting to have impacts on our activities. Our loan growth was lower than expected and, although we were able to grow our term deposits and registered deposits, our members’ cash balances were down significantly. Overall it was still a solid year and we will work hard to grow the Credit Union in the upcoming year.
One area where our growth trends remained steady was in our active memberships. We increased our active members by 3.3% in 2018. This result provides encouragement that we will be able to achieve the Board’s strategic objective of increasing our active membership by 15% in 3 years. Most of this growth happens by word of mouth so we thank you for your support and we encourage you to tell more Christians about our Credit Union.
We are very excited for the opportunity to share the biblical wisdom regarding the handling of our finances with more Christians all across Alberta! Please continue to pray that God will bless our efforts. A blessed New Year to you all!