Loans down, savings up for Weyburn Credit Union

The Weyburn Credit Union had its second highest growth in deposits, and one of their slowest years for loans, in 2020, due in most part to the COVID-19 pandemic, members and staff heard at the Credit Union’s annual meeting held via Zoom.

The Chief Financial Officer, Krista Hubic, gave the breakdown on how the Credit Union did in 2020, explaining all of the ups and downs the financial institution saw in a year of the pandemic.

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“Just as every business in Weyburn and the world has been affected, we were affected by the pandemic and its ripple effect on the economy and interest rates, and we saw how it affected our members and how we could help them,” said Hubic.

The Credit Union’s assets, which consists of cash and investments, did see growth as the institution broke the $600 million mark for the first time as the assets grew to almost $606 million.

In the area of loans, there was some agricultural and consumer lending, but the pandemic caused a lot of upheaval in the business world.

“When businesses shut down, there was still a requirement to pay bills,” said Hubic, pointing out that the Credit Union became a conduit for federal programs set up to help people, such as the Canada Employment Benefit, and programs for businesses from the federal and provincial governments.

There were also a lot of requests for loan deferrals, as “we made sure that was an option and was available for them,” said Hubic, adding that overall there was very slight growth of 0.05 per cent in loans. Some Credit Unions in the province reported negative numbers in this area.

What surprised her was the growth in deposits, as the Credit Union saw the second highest growth in deposits in the last 10 years, growing by $47 million or 9.43 per cent. Chequing and savings accounts seemed to be where most of their members held their money, as interest rates were not good for some products.

The members equity and capital shows the strength and stability of the Credit Union, said Hubic.

Looking at the income statement, the net interest income was less favourable as the Bank of Canada reduced interest rates, and the Credit Union had to reduce their prime interest rate accordingly, and “for our business, that was a major impact.”

In his report, CEO Don Shumlich said with the pandemic impacting every area of life, health and well-being was their top concern every step of the way, as many members needed help such as loan deferrals.

“As an essential business, we adjusted operations and we stepped up member communications to let people know what to expect. We remained open all through 2020,” he said, adding they also ensured that staff remained healthy and safe during this time. They ensured staff had PPE if needed, and with the assistance of a local contractor, they had plexiglass barriers installed for all of the teller stations.

He noted that the Weyburn Credit Union stepped up to sign on with the City of Weyburn as the name sponsor of the new recreation and culture centre, now known as the Credit Union Spark Centre, which is set to be open in September of this year.

“It’s definitely something to look forward to,” said Shumlich.

In spite of a tough year in 2020, he said the Credit Union has remained strong and profitable, and did not have to lay off any staff during the pandemic.

The Credit Union board paid tribute to a retiring director, Gary Beck of Lang, who has spent a total of 50 years as a board member, the last 22 years with the Weyburn Credit Union. He served for 22 years as the president of the Lang Credit Union, as well as serving on the Lang Co-op board for nine years and other organizations in the Milestone and Lang areas.

Director Jeff Richards noted that Beck has earned all three director education levels, and provided much leadership and experience to the Weyburn board. Sharing one experience with Beck, Richards recalled sitting down with him after a long training session, and Beck told him, “I’ve been here for a long time and I’m still learning.”

Beck said learning new technology was tough for him, but he has enjoyed serving as a director in Weyburn for the past 22 years, and he felt very honoured to have been a part of the board.

No board elections were held this year as the number of nominees and vacancies were the same, said board chair Lynn Colquhoun. Larry Heggs and Kelly Linnell were both acclaimed to new terms, and the board welcomed new board member Jesse Ridgeway from the Milestone area. Heggs is in his fourth year as a director, while Linnell is in her seventh year.