One bigger, better credit union?

By Contributor
April 10th, 2018

Seven credit unions have spent the winter engaged in discussions regarding the potential for combining to form one new, united credit union, and how that can best serve the needs of their members and communities in the Kootenay, Columbia Valley and Boundary regions.

The idea:

Uniting into one larger credit union could open new opportunities for investment in technologies, products, services and service delivery. The move is a truly co-operative one: banding together to achieve as one co-operative entity what they could not achieve separately. The idea is to share resources and expertise, to be better able to keep pace with the rapid changes in the financial services arena.

Of course, credit unions are co-operative financial institutions and are member-driven, so the amalgamation can happen — even with the consent of the Provincial regulator – only if at least 60% of the members of all the credit unions vote in favour of it, when the time comes for that vote. The time for a vote of the membership will not come until and unless the boards of directors of the credit unions are convinced that amalgamation can work well, and the regulator has consented.

One of the principles adopted by the seven boards of directors is that any new combined credit union must have the capacity to employ all current staff.   

The project is a massive undertaking and has involved more than 60 people so far, including a 21-person steering committee and various management and staff working groups. An amalgamation between seven credit unions has never before taken place in Canada. This is truly a ground-breaking initiative.

The seven credit unions contemplating amalgamation are: Columbia Valley Credit Union, Creston and District Credit Union, East Kootenay Credit Union, Grand Forks Credit Union, Heritage Credit Union, Kootenay Savings Credit Union, and the Nelson and District Credit Union.

 The process:

Currently, the credit unions are working together to complete the business case for the combined credit union. Once the business case is finalized, it will be reviewed for approval by the Boards of Directors for each of the seven credit unions. Once the business case is approved by the partner Boards of Directors, an application for amalgamation will be referred to the Financial Institutions Commission of BC (FICOM — the regulator) for their consent.

During this process, each partnering credit union will begin a formal consultation process with their members so their members will have the opportunity to learn more about the proposed new credit union.

The final stage of approval will be that afore-mentioned vote by members of each participating credit union to approve a resolution recommended to them by their Board of Directors.

It is expected that this entire process will continue through 2018. Readers who are credit union members can expect more news and information from their credit unions; stay tuned.


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