Daniel Johnson

Responsible Banking: Doing the Right Thing (March 8, 2019)

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll open by admitting a strong bias for doing the right thing for people, particularly when it comes to profits. As the CEO of Innovation Credit Union, my team and I look at profits as a tool for real and lasting social change. We do more than earmark some of our earnings for social impact projects. Profitable companies should contribute to society. But if the contribution is more about marketing optics than really making a difference, the impact on social change is minimal and rarely lasting.

Our shareholders are not a handful of the top 1%, as is the case for national retail banks. Our shareholders are our members, good people who trust us to be responsible with their hard earned dollars. To thank them for their trust, we work hard to be profitable and then we use those profits in a way that benefits them, their communities and the social causes they believe in. We call this Responsible Banking and it’s the central pillar of all that we do.

Responsible Banking is something I’m deeply passionate about. To me, it encapsulates what it is to do things right, then turn around and do the right thing. This values-based position guides our entire team. It challenges us to think differently about our profits, how we make them and how we use them. At the end of the day, everyone at Innovation wants to see our profits returned back to our members in the form of benefits, expanded services, competitive rates and member rewards. It’s the responsible thing to do.

Our Responsible Banking mandate ensures that we do more than pay lip service to members being our priority; we practice it everyday and in every decision we make. We don’t make empty promises to get new business in the door; we provide every member with long-term rewards that benefit them financially and position them for a better future. When it comes to helping out, we do a lot more than write cheques. We roll up our sleeves and pitch in whenever we can. When our staff isn’t volunteering, they’re cheering their children on from the stands. In fact, if you were to pop by the rink on any given evening or weekend, you’d be likely to see me cheering on my kids as well. Go Wildcats!

Another way we practice Responsible Banking is by doing all we can to hang in there when the going gets tough. While big banks have left small towns, we’ve worked diligently to find solutions to help us avoid branch closures. We’ve retrained all of our traditional frontline advice centre staff to digitally serve Innovation members from any geographical location via a secure digital queue of phone, Skype, email or online chat. Not only does this keep our valued staff employed, it allows our branches to remain open even as the entire banking industry’s foot traffic to branches declines.

We also understand that sometimes there’s no substitute for an in-person exchange, particularly in underserved communities. That’s why we’ve used our profits to purchase two mobile advice centres, which our members affectionately refer to as ‘MACs’. These MACs are essentially our credit union on wheels and enable us to ensure that everyone has access to financial services by literally driving banking options to them throughout the province. This is Responsible Banking in action. Every time a MAC hits the road, I know we’re doing the right thing. We stand by our promises, finding innovative ways to rally around our communities, making strong member relationships even stronger with committed staff who stay the course.

I work with a team of inspiring people here at Innovation. All of us share the Responsible Banking vision and we’re determined not to create an environment where tomorrow is just another version of yesterday for our members. We think big, embracing strategic innovation that creates change and fosters growth that’s good for our members, our communities and our world.

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From the desk of our CEO

Federal Continuance

For information on upcoming changes to DEPOSIT INSURANCE if we become a federal credit union, see our disclosure notice. Creditors who have concerns may contact Innovation Credit Union.

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