Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Credit Union Advantage

Roman Litwinchuk
Chief Operating Officer, UCU
Some of you reading this article might already know about the benefits of belonging to a credit union. Many of you probably already are members of Ukrainian Credit Union Limited or belong to one of the many community groups that benefit from the financial support of Ukrainian Credit Union Limited (UCU). However, I know that there are many people out there who are not very familiar with credit unions in general, and lots of people who do not know there are credit unions, such as ours, that are dedicated to serving the Ukrainian community directly.

Credit unions are trusted by millions of Canadians
Credit unions are financial institutions that count you in as a member and an owner, not just a customer. The principle of putting members first galvanized the growth of credit unions and caisse populaires (the French-language version of credit unions) over 100 years ago in Canada. Today there are around 5.3 million members at 336 credit unions and caisses populaires in Canada that manage almost $165.6 billions of assets[i] which represents a 6% increase over 2013. As the millions of credit union members will tell you, credit unions work hard for and with their members, making a difference in their local communities.

The credit union difference
If you walk by one of our branch, or use our online services, you might think that we are just like other financial institutions. But here’s the difference: a credit union is a financial co-operative, owned by its members, who are also customers. It is owned and controlled by the people it serves.
Guided by the Co-operative Principles, credit unions are a secure place to save, invest or borrow money. The seven internationally accepted Co-operative Principles shape credit union business decisions and governance, setting credit unions apart from other financial institutions:

  1. Voluntary and open membership
  2. Democratic member control
  3. Member economic participation – at credit unions, members have equitable, democratic control of their capital
  4. Autonomy and independence – credit unions are independent organizations controlled by members
  5. Education, training and information to stakeholders
  6. Co-operation among other co-operatives – credit unions work together locally, regionally, nationally and internationally
  7. Concern for community – credit unions work for sustainable development of their communities

Full range of services
Credit unions such as UCU are proud of their financial expertise and friendly service. We offer a full range of financial services – savings and chequing accounts, loans, lines of credit, mortgages, Tax_Free Savings Accounts (TFSA), RRSPs, RRIFs, RESPs, RDSPs, and investment opportunities as well as trust, estate planning and insurance programs.

Sharing a common bond
You don’t just open an account with a credit union – you JOIN a credit union. Membership is the most distinctive feature of the credit union system. As a member of Ukrainian Credit Union Limited you share a common bond with your fellow credit union members. We serve Ukrainians, both new immigrants as well as fourth and fifth generation Ukrainian Canadians across Ontario from Windsor to Ottawa and from Thunder Bay to St. Catharines. In each community we provide financial support through donations and loans to churches, dance groups, youth groups, professional associations and cultural organizations. In many communities we are the only institution with the financial means to provide such financial support.

You have a voice
Credit union members are owners, because they are also shareholders. The fundamental operating principle of credit unions is democratic ownership: one member, one vote, regardless of the amount of shareholdings or deposits. That means you have a voice, along with other members in setting the credit union’s direction at the local level, where services meet your needs. You can also share in the distribution of earnings and seek election to the credit union’s board of directors. Furthermore, you could be elected to regional or national boards or committees.

Roman Litwinchuk
Chief Operating Officer
Ukrainian Credit Union
416-922-2797, ext. 214

[i] Statistics include Canadian credit union system affiliated credit unions and caisses populaires.

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