You have little to no say in how your bank operates, but you do entrust them with your money. Banks dictate what they will offer and how they will offer it— all based on what’s best for their profit margins. Those who own stock in the banks are of primary concern and the board of directors, executive, and so on down the line determine what you are or aren’t entitled to from the bank. You are simply a customer and the banks count on your complacency to keep your business.
Banks are notorious for two kinds of fee structures. High and higher. You may have noticed less branch staff and reduced service but the fees continue to climb. Higher profits for the bank are the driver here but they are not reflected in better returns on investments and deposits, or in reduced fees.
Drastically reduced staff makes for more stress — mostly for you. In the name of “efficiency” many of the tasks or services you had help with before are now left up to you. With these reductions, the pressure is on — longer lineups and shorter fuses on employees. So to quickly deal with customers, sometimes service and friendliness are the first things to go out the door. Maybe you should consider being next out the door.
Big banks use a “for-profit model”— primarily one focused on maximizing the profit they make from customers like you. In 2017 alone, Canadian banks posted a record $42.3 billion in profit. It is clear banks are primarily looking out for themselves—an equation you don’t factor into.
Alberta credit unions differ from banks because we’re owned by our members. That’s right…owned. The process of joining and becoming a member is as simple as opening a chequing account and, just like that, you’re now a member and owner of a piece of that credit union.
As a member, you also get to vote on a range of issues, including how the credit union reinvests capital back into your community. You have the right to influence the direction of the credit union from products and services to policies and procedures. Ultimately, you have a say. When was the last time you saw a big bank offer that?
The myth that credit unions don’t offer what the big banks do is just that, a myth. Our members have access to an extensive network of ATMs and credit unions offer competitive products and services compared to the big banks. But because of a not-for-profit model, we can be kinder when it comes to fees charged and also give competitive rates. And because we are invested in our members, we can tailor programs to better suit individual needs. You’re not simply a dollar sign.
When Alberta saw the terrible damage caused by the Fort McMurray wildfire or the province’s southern floods, Alberta credit unions rallied together to contribute not just dollars, but support, manpower, loans and mortgage extensions because credit unions are focused on helping members and the communities they live in.
But it’s bigger than just that. So, when an Alberta-based credit union make a profit (and we do!) we share that with you. We also take it one step further by protecting your money: we are subject – through the Alberta Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation – to a deposit insurance regime with a 100% deposit guarantee. That means the money you put in, and the interest you earn, is safe and secure up to any dollar amount.
When it comes to being first in customer service excellence amongst all Canadian financial institutions, it’s no surprise credit unions have taken the top spot for 14 years straight. We’ve also delivered new products and services before the big banks did. We were first to offer fully functional online banking, mobile cheque deposits and mobile pay. Leading with technology has always been the credit union way. After all, we introduced ATMs before the big banks did.
We’re also dedicated to supporting small Canadian businesses, which is why credit unions are leaders when it comes to SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) lending – we had one of the highest small business lending market shares in 2016.
We’re leading the way because we are here to benefit our members, real people in the community — people just like you.
The big banks aren’t changing for the better so you need to make a change. Choose an alternative that is designed to not only be profitable, but profitable for you.
Credit unions — the better way to bank without the “banks”. Discover what a credit union membership can do for you and your money, today.
In the mid-1800s when Canada’s financial system was developing, ordinary people didn’t have the access to banks we take for granted today.
Farmers would often arrange lines of credit from local merchants and fall into unmanageable debt. Soon after, an entrepreneurial Prince Edward Islander decided that everyday people deserved fair financial treatment and this began a credit union movement that would spread through North America and launch long-standing credit unions such as the Desjardins Group.
Our credit union customers are members and owners (regardless of how much any member has on deposit or in investment shares), and they each have the right to democratically vote on how the credit union should be run if they wish to do so.
Although a brick-and-mortar credit union may very well look like a bank, there are many differences between the two: credit unions are financial cooperatives, so they’re locally owned by people like you and they invest their profits back into the communities they operate in.
Every credit union member has the right and opportunity to stand for election to a board of directors, or to vote for other members. And these directors get a chance to ensure that everyone from the CEO, to management of the credit union, is kept in check. Real people looking out for other real people.
Credit unions couldn’t be more different than Canada’s big banks. Where branches all look the same and are run by the same overall set of rules, credit unions are autonomous. Each one has its own identity, management and board of directors.
Currently, there are 623 credit unions in Canada with nearly 3,000 branches. More than a third of the population of Canada are credit union members — isn’t it time you discovered why?