2019 was a milestone year. It was a year to look back and acknowledge the values that have propelled our success, while envisioning a future that maintains those defining values in a vastly different landscape.
Interior Savings closed off its 80th year in business with $2.6 billion in assets and $11.8 million in operating income. It’s humbling to think our credit union was founded by just 20 members and $96.50 in deposits, while today we serve 70,000 members across 14 interior BC communities.
Our Way Forward
Advancements in technology and the speed of life are changing the way our members want to manage their finances and the ways in which they want to connect with us. 50 years ago the banking world was shaken up when ATMs were introduced as a revolutionary new technology. Today, we see their use dropping as people migrate to doing most of their banking from their mobile phones.
Our challenge in the future will be to continually evolve our digital offering to meet our members’ needs without losing the personal touch for which we’re known. To help guide us in this new frontier, in 2019 we updated our Vision, Mission and Values with a new vision for our future, dubbed “Our Way Forward”. This new vision acknowledges our members’ success as our guiding light and recognizes it will take collaboration, curiosity and courage to carry us forward.
Preparing for a New Banking System
The demands on our banking system are changing. Though our current system has served us well for many years, for us to continue making banking easier for our members, in 2019 we made the decision to switch to a new system. Work has been underway for the better part of 2019 to prepare us for a conversion later in 2020.
With the new banking system, we will also implement workflow technology to eliminate much of the time-consuming and redundant data entry and administration, thus giving our employees more time to connect in meaningful ways with our members.
Investments in Technology Create Added Convenience and Options for Members
In the fall, we launched a new website to make information easier to find, particularly on a mobile device and included a new feature that allows members to book appointments online without having to call in.
We also invested in increasingly robust security measures. We transitioned all members to strong alphanumeric passwords and launched RMail, a globally-recognized encryption software that allows us to securely exchange confidential information with our members over email.
Work was also completed in 2019 to allow for the introduction of Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay in early 2020.
Cooperation Among Cooperatives
One of the seven guiding principles of cooperatives is that we are stronger and better able to serve our members when we work together. In 2019 our credit union actively participated in numerous collaborative efforts, from participating in multi-credit union think tanks and strategic planning groups, to our most exciting collaboration of the year: a jointly owned insurance subsidiary with Coastal Community Credit Union (CCCU). Together with CCCU, we formed an umbrella company that owns and operates two insurance divisions: Coastal Community Insurance Services and Interior Savings Insurance Services. Combined, we are now the largest Credit Union insurance broker in BC. This new venture will allow both credit unions better buying power and the ability to share the cost on investments in new technology and training for staff, with the end result being better service and expanded product offerings for our insurance clients.
Building Stronger Communities
In our 2019 employee survey, 99% of employees said they felt Interior Savings is a valuable and contributing member of community. And we recognize that we couldn’t do it without our employees who volunteered more than 7,200 hours in 2019, ran our Great Money Challenge booth at over 25 events last summer and participated on the planning committees of every one of our major sponsorships. And, of course, it is only because of our members that we were able to award nearly half a million dollars in bursaries to local students and invest another half a million in events, programs and services that strengthen our community. We participated as a sponsor in more than 100 community events. Through our Community Investment Fund, we bought: play equipment for free family drop in programs; specialized exercise equipment for community health and rehabilitation programs; and AED equipment and training for schools and volunteer first responders. You can find more information about our community involvement in our 2019 Community Investment Report.
2020 will be an intensive year for our employees as they learn and adapt to a new banking system. The air amongst staff is one of excitement – we look forward to a system that will simplify things and allow our employees to spend more time doing what they do best: enriching each member’s life journey while keeping the human touch in a digital world.
While we don’t typically refer to recent events in this message, it seems timely to acknowledge the challenges our members and communities are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Interior Saving remains committed to protecting the health and welfare of our members and employees while remaining there for our members, to help them get through this.
On behalf of the Board of Directors and all the employees, we hope that you and your families are safe and we thank you for adjusting to changes we have been making as part of the community response to this pandemic. We look forward to continuing to serve you in 2020.