|Headquarters||Vancouver, British Columbia|
|Key people||Tamara Vrooman, President/CEO|
|Revenue||$407.6 million CAD (2013)|
|Net income||$61.4 million CAD (2013)|
|Total assets||$17.5 billion CAD (2013)|
Vancouver City Savings Credit Union, commonly referred to as Vancity, is a member-owned financial co-operative headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia. By asset size, Vancity is the largest community credit union in Canada, with $20.9 billion worth of assets under administration and more than 501,000 members.
Vancity began operations in 1946 as an open-bond credit union in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Initially a financial co-operative consisting of 14 Vancouver residents, Vancity has grown to serve B.C.’s Lower Mainland and the Victoria region of Vancouver Island.
The majority of Canadian credit unions were formed in the first half of the 20th century, emerging during a time when major banks made it difficult for the average citizen to borrow or invest. Rather than evaluating wealth or property as a criteria for lending, as most banks did, credit unions would lend money on the basis of solid character and trustworthiness. Therefore, most credit unions were formed around a common bond, such as workplace, trade, church, or ethnic affiliation. Common-bond credit unions increased access to credit, but this credit was largely limited to members of a specific social group.
On September 28, 1946, 14 Vancouver residents signed a charter to establish an open-bond credit union that would be open to any resident of the city, regardless of social affiliation. On October 11, 1946, Vancouver City Savings Credit Union opened to the public. By the end of 1946, total assets were $2,966.
Vancity first operated out of a former machine shop on the corner of Broadway and Quebec streets in Vancouver. By the end of 1951, membership had reached 2,000. Assets grew rapidly after the introduction of personal chequing accounts in the same year, reaching $5 million in 1962, $10 million in 1965, $100 million in 1973, and $1 billion by 1980. Current assets are $17.5 billion.
Vancity has a history of innovation in the North American financial services market:
- 1946: the first financial institution to provide mortgages for properties in Vancouver’s working class east end.
- 1959: the first financial institution in Canada to offer open mortgages.
- 1961: the first financial institution in Canada to lend to women without a male co-signer.
- 1967: the first financial institution in Canada to offer a daily interest savings account, calculating interest earnings on a daily basis.
- 1980: the first financial institution in Canada to offer an all-in-one banking statement.
- 1986: offers Canada’s first socially responsible mutual fund, the Ethical Growth Fund.
- 1988: the first financial institution in Canada to offer a Registered Education Savings Plan.
- 1991: the first credit union in Canada to acquire a trust company, Citizens Trust Company.
- 1997: the first financial institution in Canada to establish a branchless bank, Citizens Bank of Canada.
- 2002: the first financial institution in Canada to market to the gay and lesbian community through mainstream advertising.
Vancity’s primary lines of business include retail and business banking (deposit-taking and lending) and mortgage lending. Through wholly owned subsidiaries, Vancity also operates foreign exchange, life insurance, Visa credit cards, real estate development, and investment advisory services.
Vancity members are directly involved in how the credit union is operated through an annual Board of Directors election that elects Vancity board members for three-year terms. Votes are calculated on a one-member-one-vote basis.
Board members are accountable for guiding the vision and direction of the credit union, as well as hiring the CEO and overseeing the Vancity Executive Leadership Team.
Current board members are:
- Jan O’Brien, chair
- Anita Braha, vice chair
- Teresa Conway
- Allen Garr
- Lily Grewal
- Theodora Lamb
- Greg McDade
- Virginia Weiler
- Bob Williams
Current members of the Executive Leadership Team are:
- Tamara Vrooman – president and CEO
- Chris Dobrzanski – chief economist; president and CEO, Citizens Bank of Canada
- Lisa Coltart – chief financial officer
- Linda Morris – senior vice president of business development, member and community engagement
- Doris Orr – senior vice president of risk
- Ellen Pekeles – senior vice president of operations
- Rick Sielski – chief operating officer of member services
- Bob Elton – member of the executive leadership team
- Jay-Ann Gilfoy – senior vice president and executive sponsor for the Banking Applications Renewal (BAR) Program
Vancity is a member of Central 1 Credit Union and is registered with the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation of BC. In December 2010, Vancity joined the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV).
Awards and recognition
Vancity has won a number of important business and social innovation awards, including:
- Top 50 Socially Responsible Corporations, from Maclean’s (2014)
- Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada (1st in financial category, 2nd overall), from Corporate Knights (2014)
- BC’s Top Employers, from Canada's Top 100 Employers (2014)
- Access and Inclusion Award, from the City of Vancouver (2013)
- Marketer of the Year, from BCAMA (2013, 2005, 1993)
- Best Corporate Citizen in Canada, from Corporate Knights (2013)
- Credibility through Assurance (Winner) and Best Integrated Report (1st Runner-up), from Corporate Register Reporting Awards (2013)
- Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada (2nd), from Corporate Knights (2012)
- Rix Award for Engaged Corporate Citizenship, from The Rix Center for Corporate Citizenship & Engaged Leadership (2011)
- Most Innovative Companies, Finance Category (8th), from Fast Company (2010)
- Community Economic Development Award, from Credit Union Central of Canada (2009)
- Vancity CEO Tamara Vrooman named as Canada’s most powerful woman in the corporate executives category, from the Women’s Executive Network (2008)
- First Place – North American Sustainability Reporting Award, from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (Ceres) (2007)
- Number 1 place to work in Canada, from Great Place to Work Institute Canada (2006)
- Hardin, Hershel (1996). Working Dollars, p. 3. Douglas & MacIntyre, Vancouver. ISBN 1550544322
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