Every organization has a story. Many are typical accounts of significant financial transactions, notable business acquisitions, facility openings, ribbon-cuttings and the like, generously sprinkled with the obligatory nods to navy-jacketed men and women.
But good organizations, actually great organizations, tell stories that capture the audience’s imagination from the very start—stories that make you dream, that stand a paradigm on its head or that expose you to ways of thinking you hadn’t considered before. For many of these organizations, their account spans the decades and even the centuries; for others, their tale has just begun.
The genesis for First West’s story occurred several years ago around a kitchen table in Abbotsford when two golfing buddies, who were also CEOs of well-established credit unions, decided there had to be better ways for credit unions to grow and expand in their competitive industry than through traditional mergers. Such traditional mergers were usually an immediate plus for the financial statements but carried a tremendous cost to local brand awareness, local decision-making and local market focus.
Not long after, with only an idea and belief that things could be different and better, Valley First and Envision Financial began a journey together to draft the blueprint of a partnership that had the potential to achieve what was to that point only imagined. So the partnership began, with trying, learning, rethinking, recalibrating and on occasion, failing—but always believing. And the outcome was none other than we now call First West.
Chapter by chapter, scene by scene, the First West story continues to unfold, with our third and fourth partners now on the journey. Both Enderby & District Financial and Island Savings, along with their members, recognized the times and led with courage, weaving their hopes into the First West vision of what can be.
More than just a credit union and a partnership, First West is a concept and an idea—like the start of an adventure. It’s an experience certain to awaken the mind, heart and spirit to another way of doing financial services in Canada. And so First West’s story, our story, has in many ways just begun.
Key milestones and dates
First West Credit Union legally formed through the merger of Valley First Credit Union and Envision Credit Union
|April 2010||Launi Skinner appointed as First West’s new CEO, replacing the retiring founding CEO Gord Huston|
|October 2010||First West Credit Union launches First West Capital, a new subordinated debt financing group|
|December 2010||At year-end, First West posts record results, exceeding merger business plan forecasts, with an ROA of 0.89—the highest among largest credit unions in B.C.|
|January 2011||Release of game-changing strategic plan, including First West’s Things we believe, Why? statement, and Six Big Ideals|
|April 2011||Shawn Neumann named as new Board Chair for First West Credit Union|
|August 2012||Unveiled the Simply Free Account™, the perfect everyday account and the only banking account that offers free Interac® e-transfers in Canada, to First West members|
Launched Referral Perks to Envision Financial and Valley First members
Through the program, both the referrer and referee receive a $50 prepaid MasterCard® for every successful referral and new chequing account opening, up to $250 per year
|October 2012||Introduced the Unlimited Chequing for Business® account to members with Valley First accounts and re-introduced it to members with Envision Financial accounts|
|April 2013||Welcomed Enderby & District Financial to First West's family of brands|
|June 2013||Introduced the Simply Free Account™ and Unlimited Chequing for Business® account to members with Enderby & District Financial|
|September 2013||First West and Island Savings enter partnership discussions|
|December 2013||First West and Island Savings boards approve merger business case|
|November 2014||Island Savings members vote in favour of merger with First West|
|January 2015||Welcomed Island Savings to First West|