Annual Report 2012

Welcome to First West Credit Union’s 2012 annual report. Learn here about how we're re-invigorating the Canadian credit union system with a unique multi-brand operating model that's yielding strong financial results. Download our 2012 financial statements, read our management’s discussion and analysis, and check out our 2012 successes including highlights from our regional brands, Envision Financial and Valley First.


Board & CEO

Start Something New

It's all about now. This moment.

Today marks an opportunity. This very point in time holds the possibility of a new trajectory. We experience an incredible energy when we understand the potential around us, when we make something of this minute, day, year—something that hasn't been done before. The start of something new.

Too often, though, as individuals, or businesses or communities, we choose to dabble in the existing, tweak at the ordinary, fiddle with the common—achieving little that's remarkable.

Yet athletes, artists and companies we admire are the ones who initiate and begin. It's what makes Usain Bolt the fastest man on earth. It makes Adele, Rihanna, Madonna icons in their industry. And it's the same in business. Those that dream and reach go far. Apple. Zappos. WestJet.

For First West, 2012 was the start of the transformation from an organization that whispered and tiptoed into one that found its voice and ignited real change for our members, among our employees, in our communities and across the credit union system.

The last two years have seen a lot of catch up work—catching up on mobile offerings, catching up on the way we coach, lead and provide feedback to our team members, catching up on the way our organization can make the biggest difference in our communities.

With that behind us, the organization we want others to see is one that starts something new. You've already begun to see it. Just this year we launched our Simply Free Account™—possibly the "ding free-est" account in Canada. We started offering you meaningful and tangible rewards for being an enthusiastic member through our Referral Perks™ program. We began offering the extremely popular and unbeatable Unlimited Chequing for Business® across our entire network, reaching more British Columbian business owners than ever before.

But that's nothing to what we have in store for the future. Here's where were going in 2013:

  • We're ready to transform the way we impact communities in the Fraser Valley and Northern B.C. with our The Full Cupboard initiative. Together with Valley First's Feed the Valley™ program, our organization is fully committed to improving food security for all British Columbians.
  • We're introducing a whole new online experience—our new Valley First and Envision Financial websites will offer more helpful advice than before.
  • We're gearing up to provide members with the latest online personal financial management tools, specifically for our members here in Canada.
  • We're welcoming a third brand to our network of local community credit unions: Enderby & District Financial. And we're thrilled that credit unions across Canada are reaching out to us, wanting to learn how their credit union can work local and yet work big at the same time.
  • We're transforming our personal and commercial insurance businesses. Though we're one of the 10 largest insurance brokers in B.C., we believe a personalized, custom-tailored approach can move us even higher.
  • We're going to be one of the first financial institutions in Canada to introduce technology that allows you to take a photo of your cheque with your smartphone and deposit it directly into your account.
  • And we're going to introduce a mobile wallet, so you have access to your debit and credit cards via your smartphone.

Exciting, isn't it? Leading. Changing. Making this place and this moment in time better than it was before. We hope that the positive difference we make in the lives of others inspires them to ask, "What new thing am I going to start?"

To our members, teams and partners who made 2012 a success, thank you! Read on for all the new milestones we achieved last year and click here for a preview of our priorities for the year ahead. For those of you ready to change our world, hold on—we're on our way.

Shawn Neumann

Shawn Neumann

Board Chair

Launi Skinner

Launi Skinner


P.S. What are you starting that's new this year? We want to hear your stories. Write Us.

portrait: Paul Durose

Paul Durose


portrait: Wayne Becker

Wayne Becker


portrait: Terry Enns

Terry Enns


portrait: Henry Jansen

Henry Jansen


portrait: Stewart Ladyman

Stewart Ladyman


portrait: Ramesh Rikhi

Ramesh Rikhi


portrait: Peter Scherle

Peter Scherle


portrait: Larry Stevens

Larry Stevens


portrait: Ken Voth

Ken Voth


portrait: Jackie Baron

Jackie Baron

Senior VP, Governance & Corporate Strategy

portrait: Shelley Besse

Shelley Besse

President, Envision Financial

portrait: Barry Delaney

Barry Delaney

Senior VP, Business Development

portrait: Loree Gray

Loree Gray

Senior VP, Operations

portrait: Bryan Mavrow

Bryan Mavrow

Senior VP, Marketing

portrait: Paulette Rennie

Paulette Rennie

President, Valley First

portrait: Lee Rhodes

Lee Rhodes

Senior VP, People Services

portrait: Paul von Saarn

Paul von Saarn

Senior VP, Enterprise Risk Manager



  • President's Message from Shelley Besse

    At Envision Financial, our members are at the centre of everything we do. We want your experience at Envision to be the best banking experience you've ever had. And what better way to start than by removing banking fees. The introduction of our Simply Free Account™ was a highlight for me this past year and a great way to thank you for your loyalty and support.

  • Over the past few years, there's been a notable shift in the banking industry. Consumers are asking for more convenient banking options and locations and for help to gain a clearer understanding of their financial future. We are listening and taking action.

    This year, we were proud to introduce our Mobile Banking app and Me-to-Me Transfers, making it more convenient than ever for our members to access their accounts and banking information. We were also proud to launch a new online referral program, allowing our members to easily recommend Envision to their friends and family and to be rewarded for doing so. There's even more to come in 2013, including new online enhancements.

    Our branch and insurance office locations are also important when it comes to convenience. This year, we relocated our Scottsdale branch to the Sunshine Hills area and our Scottsdale insurance office to Newton. In late December, our business banking team from Minter Street moved into our centrally-located Town Centre branch. In mid-2013 we will be relocating our Minter Street branch to the new High Street development in West Abbotsford.

    The driving force behind all of these changes is to make banking simple for our members. Our employees are committed to providing you, our members, with an amazing experience that is easy and convenient. I'm so proud of the progress we've made in 2012.

    If you're not yet an Envision Financial member, please join us—we'd love to get to know you. To all of our members, thank you for your ongoing loyalty and support and for continuing to choose Envision Financial. We are here because of you.

    Shelley Besse
  • Members

    The goal of every Envision Financial employee is simple: to make a real difference in the financial lives of our members. Whether you are a student, working professional, young family, empty-nester or retiree, we want to help you and your family through every stage of life. More importantly, we're committed to keeping banking simple, because finances don't need to be complicated.

  • Globe West Printers and Envision Financial: Succeeding together

    When Ken Giesbrecht moved from Saskatchewan to B.C. 25 years ago, one of his first goals was to set up an extension of the family commercial print shop business his father started in Saskatchewan in 1973. A short time later, Globe West Printers in Abbotsford was born.

    "When I started my own print shop, my father's advice was to bank with a credit union," says Giesbrecht. "It wasn't long before I figured out why. After several years of renting I was ready to purchase my own building, but my financial services provider at the time wasn't interested in helping me. When I went into Envision Financial and met with commercial account manager Lyndon Fransoo, it was like night and day. Lyndon took a personal interest in me and even came to tour my business so he could better understand how Envision Financial could partner with me."

    Globe West Printers started out as a one-man show but over the years it has grown to become the largest commercial printer in the Fraser Valley with 30 employees. The reasons behind their success are simple.

    "Our team is focused on helping our customers achieve significant business results," says Giesbrecht. "We take pride in consistently delivering high quality, cost-effective printing with fast turnaround times and exceptional customer service."

    "I feel lucky to have Envision Financial and Lyndon in my corner," he adds. "They have been with us at every milestone—the purchase of our building, our printing press and the acquisition of our local competitor this past fall."

  • As Giesbrecht looks another 25 years down the road, he sees further expansion of his business and more acquisitions, and he knows Envision Financial will be with him every step of the way.

    By the numbers

    • Member Experience Index scores continue to surpass industry averages: 87% for credit union members and insurance clients
    • 86% of members would refer family or friends to Envision Financial
    • 3,901 net new members joined the Envision Financial family
    • $0—the monthly service fee our members pay for our Simply Free Account™
    • 23 new employees licensed to offer investment advice to our members
    • 31 senior leaders spent a day in Envision Financial branches and insurance offices connecting with members as part of our Closer-to-the-Member day
    • 16 member-facing processes review and streamlined through Lean, making it easier for our members to do business with us


    • Envision Financial said good-bye to banking fees with the introduction of its new Simply Free Account™, the only banking account that offers free Interac® e-Transfers in Canada
    • Scottsdale branch relocated to a brand new, state-of-the-art branch facility at 6481-120 Street in the Sunshine Hills area
    • Scottsdale insurance office relocated to 114-7322 King George Boulevard in Newton, beside our Newton branch
    • Referral Perks program launched, making it easy and rewarding for members of Envision Financial to refer their family and friends to the credit union
    • Me-to-Me Transfers launched, enabling Envision Financial members to link their accounts at other financial institutions to their Envision Financial account and thus making it easier to transfer funds
    • Envision Financial Mobile Banking app launched, allowing members to check account information, transfer money, pay bills and schedule transactions all from an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad
    • Envision Financial re-launched the Unlimited Chequing for Business® account—the best small business account in the marketplace
    • Envision Financial partnered with Travel Insurance Coordinators Ltd. as our exclusive travel insurance provider to provide members with better pricing and an enhanced product offering
  • Community

    For more than 65 years, Envision Financial has been striving to make the communities that we serve better places to live, work and play. We endeavor to create good things in our communities by taking a proactive approach in our partnerships and investing in ways that make a meaningful difference. Our goal is to involve all aspects of our business in helping our communities, from providing funding and guidance, to engaging our employees and members in volunteer efforts.

  • Helping the homeless with time, commitment and passion

    When the Salvation Army began the capital campaign to address the development of an emergency shelter in Langley, Envision Financial was quick to jump on board. Employees participated in the public fundraising campaign, spoke at several town hall community forums, volunteered on the Salvation Army's community advisory committee, provided support on the grand opening planning committee and acted as volunteers during open house celebrations in December 2009.

    "The original vision for our Gateway of Hope facility was born from a desire to address the needs of the homeless in our local community in a comprehensive way," says Troy Gaglardi, director of operations at the Gateway of Hope. "Our goal is to see people get to a place where they're productive and able to connect with other people."

    Since the start of the partnership, Envision Financial has given more than $75,000 to the Gateway of Hope. Over the years Envision Financial's involvement has deepened to include sponsorship of many of its fundraising events and involvement from Envision employees. Each year, the Envision team participates in the Christmas Kettle Campaign and volunteers at the Gateway of Hope as part of Envision's annual community service volunteer week.

    Three years ago, Envision Financial partnered with the Gateway of Hope to design and develop a six-week financial literacy program. The program, now held twice each year, is facilitated by Envision Financial volunteers, and focuses on knowledge-building skills and interactive learning in the areas of financial decision-making, budgeting and savings, debit and credit, and planning for the future.

  • "Envision Financial has been a tremendous partner—they're aligned with our values of relationship, authenticity and innovation," says Gaglardi. "They really want to be part of the solution and they recognize that it doesn't just take money. It takes time, commitment and passion. Ultimately, we're looking for people first. If you have people working with you who share your vision, you can achieve much more together."

    By the numbers

    • Nearly $1.3 million donated to worthy causes and organizations in our local communities
    • More than $215,000 of in-kind contributions to charitable partners
    • 1,368 gifts, 3,400 lbs of food and almost $15,000 collected for local families and seniors through our Angel Tree program
    • $44,000 donated to local charities and community organizations by employees as part of our employee giving campaign
    • More than $31,000 contributed to nonprofit partners as employee volunteerism during working hours
    • 4,445 hours of employee time donated through Envision Financial's employee volunteerism program
    • 50 free concerts for local residents through the Envision Twilight Concert Series, Envision Coffee House Concert Series and Envision Concert in the Park Series
    • 184 employees participated in our sixth annual community volunteer service week, up 8% from 2011
    • 18 seniors and children impacted through our Big Brothers Big Sisters' Between Generations Program
    • 4,300 runners participated in Run for Water, up 47% from 2011
    • More than $50,000 raised for B.C. Children's Hospital Foundation by Envision Financial employees

    Envision Financial is a proud participant of LBG Canada, a growing group of companies committed to maximizing the value of their community investment—for community partners and for the business. Our community investment results are based on LBG Canada valuation principles.

    London Benchmarking Group
  • A selection of Envision Financial’s community partners in 2012 includes:

    Education Partners

    • Big Brothers and Big Sisters Fraser
    • Valley
    • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Langley
    • Cougar Canyon Elementary
    • Delta School District
    • Douglas College Foundation
    • Kwantlen Polytechnic University
    • Langley Environmental Partners Society
    • Langley Montessori School
    • Langley School District Foundation
    • Maples Discovery Gardens Co-op
    • PowerPlay Strategies
    • Run for Water Society
    • Sikh Academy
    • Success By 6
    • Surrey School District
    • University of the Fraser Valley

    Emerging Opportunities

    • Abbotsford Community Services Society
    • Ann Davis Transition Society
    • Canadian Cancer Society
    • Chilliwack Hospital Health Care Foundation
    • Crossroads Hospice Society
    • Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation - Chilliwack
    • Fraser Canyon Hospice Society
    • Fraser Valley Gleaners
    • Friends in Need Food Bank
    • Haney Rotary
    • Heart & Stroke Foundation
    • Hope Community Services Society
    • Hope Hospice Society
    • Kitimat Food Bank
    • Langley Homelessness Steering Committee
    • SAINTS Rescue
    • Mission Community Services Society
    • Pacific Community Resources Society
    • Salvation Army, Care and Share Centre
    • Share Family & Community Services Society
    • Soroptimist International of the Langleys
    • Sources BC
    • South Delta Food Bank
    • Tillicum Adult Learning Centre

    Arts and Culture

    • Abbotsford Arts Council
    • Chilliwack Academy of Music
    • Chilliwack Arts and Cultural Centre Society
    • Chilliwack Canada Days
    • Free Rein Associates
    • Hope Brigade Days
    • Ladner May Days
    • Ladner Village Quilt Walk & Classic Car Show
    • Hope & District Arts Council
    • Kitimat Concert Series
    • Kiwanis Fraser Valley Music Festival
    • Semiahmoo House Society

    Strengthening the Volunteer Sector

    • Abbotsford Hospice Society
    • Angel Tree
    • BC Children’s Hospital Foundation
    • BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund
    • Canuck Place
    • CARE Transit
    • Chilliwack and District Senior Resources Society
    • Delta Hospice Society
    • Delta Hospital Foundation
    • Ducks Unlimited Canada
    • Langley Food Bank
    • Langley Senior Resources Society
    • Mission Heritage Association
    • Mission Hospice Society
    • Peace Arch Hospital Foundation
    • Peninsula Community Foundation
    • Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation
    • Salvation Army, Gateway of Hope
    • Surrey Food Bank
    • Surrey Hospice Society
    • Sources Rent Bank
    • Vantage Point
    • YWCA Metro Vancouver
  • Envision Community pic Envision Community pic Envision Community pic Envision Community pic Envision Community pic Envision Community pic Envision Community pic Envision Community pic Envision Community pic
  • President's Message from Paulette Rennie

    "Members matter most." These three simple words formed our catchcry for 2012. They were also firmly at the heart of everything we did throughout the year—a year of serving our members and providing expert financial advice when and where our members wanted it.

  • To make our services more accessible we completed the rebranding of the Vintage Hills credit union and insurance offices in Westbank and the Don Stobbe insurance office in Kelowna. We also made significant strides toward opening our two newest branches, RiverBend branch in Kamloops and Rutland branch at Valley First Place in Kelowna. With these three terrific additions to our network, a Valley First branch is closer to you than ever before.

    It's no secret the world is going digital. We are no different. During the year, we added Interac® e-Transfers, e-statements, online loan and account applications and an online referrals program to our product and service line-up. With these tremendous introductions, banking has never been more convenient.

    In all my years in banking, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say they like paying bank fees. This year, we relegated them to the history books when we launched the Simply Free Account™—our no-cost everyday account. Coupled with Unlimited Chequing for Business® at just $20 per month, we are providing the highest level of service at the lowest possible cost.

    All these enhancements serve one purpose: keeping it simple for you, our member. In many cases we've leapfrogged the competition in terms of financial expertise, accessibility and products. Even better, this sets the tone for a tremendous 2013.

    The success of Valley First comes down to two things: the commitment of our dedicated employees, and the loyalty and support of our members. I would like to thank you all for playing such an important role in making Valley First the incredible organization it is today. I look forward to another 65 years of success.

    Paulette Rennie
  • Members

    Our top priority during 2012 was to ensure we were providing the products and services when and where our members needed them most. With that goal in mind we made some tremendous additions to our product line, added more financial experts to our branch teams and laid the foundation for an expanded branch network.

  • Valley First partnership helps The Bench become one of Penticton's best known eateries

    Since opening in 2005, The Bench Artisan Food Market has become one of Penticton's most recognized eateries and gourmet markets. And, with ongoing financial support and expertise from Valley First, it has continued to grow its reputation as one of the South Okanagan's premier casual dining venues.

    The story of The Bench began when sisters Dawn Lennie and Debbie Halladay saw an opportunity to satisfy the growing demand for good food and products to go with award-winning Okanagan wines. With an ironclad business idea and a location in mind, Lennie and Halladay turned their attentions to finding the ideal financial partner.

    "I was new to the Okanagan, so a friend suggested I talk to Valley First," says Lennie. "From our first meeting more than seven years ago, Valley First has been there every step of the way. The support and expert advice the team provides has allowed us to continue to grow and add to our product line and premises."

    "We've worked hard to build our reputation and we want to keep delivering for our loyal customers," adds Lennie. "Building our business like this wasn't even in our plans seven years ago. We're extremely happy with our partnership with Valley First and the way The Bench is expanding."

  • By the numbers

    • 86% of Valley First members who use our retail, business or wealth management services would most likely recommend them to friend or family member
    • 84% of clients would most likely recommend Valley First Insurance to a friend or family member
    • 2,259 new members joined Valley First
    • 94% of members and clients will most likely continue to use Valley First services in the future
    • 78 branch employees licensed to sell mutual funds
    • Eight new products and services introduced to help simplify banking for members


    • Providing superior service at no cost to you with the Simply Free Account™
    • Making it easy and profitable to spread the word about Valley First with Referral Perks
    • Sending cash across Canada at the touch of a button with Interac® e-Transfers
    • Serving small business needs by launching Unlimited Chequing for Business®—the all-in-one business account for one low monthly fee
    • Launching the mobile app: full-service banking on your smartphone or tablet
    • Looking after our members and clients at home and abroad with specialized travel insurance products
    • Expanding our branch and insurance network by welcoming Vintage Hills at 201-3550 Carrington Road in Westbank and Rutland Insurance—ahead of its move to Valley First Place—in Kelowna to the Valley First network
    • Laying the plans for the two new branches we opened in 2013: the RiverBend branch at 760 Mayfair Street in Kamloops and Valley First Place—home of the Rutland branch and Rutland Insurance—at 101-110 Highway 33 in Kelowna
  • Community

    Valley First has a longstanding tradition of supporting the communities it serves. Through the thousands of dollars donation, grants, bursaries, scholarships and gifts-in-kind, we are recognized as a caring community partner and trusted neighbour. Beyond monetary support, Valley First community investment activities, such as event sponsorship, also bring significant economic benefits to the region.

  • 65th anniversary year commemorated with community investment successes

    On Feb. 7, Valley First celebrated its 65th anniversary. To mark this historic occasion in true Valley First style, we asked our employees and members to make a real difference in the communities where they live, work and play.

    To kick things off, we launched our 6,500 pound food challenge. We committed to gifting $6,500 to the food bank in the area of the Valley First branch that gathered the largest amount of food donations on the way to our 6,500 pound target.

    After surpassing that initial target in less than four months with the Valley First Armstrong branch leading the charge collecting 1,950 of food, we re-issued the challenge offering another $6,500 for food collected until the end of the year. In an incredible show of support, our branches went on to collect 13,000 more pounds of food, the lions share of which was collected by the small Similkameen town, Keremeos. In 12 months, the branch raised close to 12,000 pounds of food and netted $6,500 for the Cawston & Area Food Bank. In total for the year, our Feed the Valley collections totalled 32,000 pounds of food and $149,000 dollars.

    Continuing on the 65th anniversary theme, Valley First extended its partnership with the Penticton Vees by pledging $65 to KidSport for every goal the team scored during its playoff run. With the Vees scoring 130 times en route to becoming RBC Cup champions—the biggest prize in Junior A hockey—$8,450 was deposited in the KidSport coffers.

    These tremendous successes significantly raised Valley First's profile as a leader in community giving and support. We also earned high praise from community partners such as Food Banks B.C. and municipalities across the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys.

  • By the numbers

    • Nearly $780,000 donated to worthy causes and organizations in our local communities
    • $2.5 million injected in the South Okanagan economy through the sponsorship of the Valley First Granfondo Axel Merckx Okanagan
    • More than $41,000 of in-kind contributions to charitable partners
    • More than $3,000 contributed to nonprofit partners as employee volunteerism during working hours
    • $149,000 and 32,000 pounds of food raised during 2012 for Feed the Valley, bringing the overall total to almost $465,000 and nearly 40,000 pounds of food raised since March 2010
    • 11 students benefitted from $17,000 in scholarship and bursary payments
    • $33,000 donated to local charities and community organizations by employees as part of our employee giving campaign
    • 1,100 hours of employee time spent volunteering in communities across the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys

    Valley First is a proud participant of LBG Canada, a growing group of companies committed to maximizing the value of their community investment—for community partners and for the business. Our community investment results are based on LBG Canada valuation principles.

    London Benchmarking Group
  • A selection of Valley First’s community partners in 2012 includes:

    Education Partners

    • Central Okanagan Bursary and Scholarship Society
    • Charles Bloom Secondary School (Lumby)
    • Friends of Raise a Reader
    • KVR Middle School breakfast program
    • Metro Up Financial Asset and Literacy Foundation
    • Okanagan College Foundation
    • Penticton Senior Secondary School
    • Pleasant Valley Senior Secondary School (Armstrong)
    • Princess Margaret Senior Secondary School (Penticton)
    • Princeton Senior Secondary School
    • School District 22: Vernon
    • School District 73: Kamloops
    • Similkameen Secondary School (Keremeos)
    • South Okanagan Secondary School (Oliver)
    • Thompson Rivers University (TRU)
    • UBC Okanagan

    Emerging Opportunities

    • B.C. Professional Firefighters Burn Fund
    • COYSA: Central Okanagan Youth Soccer Association
    • Credit Union Central: Success by 6
    • Downtown Penticton Business Association
    • Greater Vernon Museum and Archives
    • Immaculata Regional High School
    • Kamloops Boys & Girls Club (Angel Tree)
    • Kamloops Seniors Outreach Centre (Angel Tree)
    • Nature Trust of B.C.
    • Peach City Runners
    • Penticton-Okanagan Rotary Club
    • Arts Council of the Central Okanagan
    • Caravan Theatre, Armstrong
    • Fresh B.C. Talent Quest
    • Oliver Arts Council

    Strengthening the Volunteer Sector

    • B.C. Book Prizes
    • Business Gives Back Charity Auction Penticton Lakeside
    • Canadian Cancer Society
    • Canadian Cancer Society
    • Central Okanagan Hospice Association
    • Community Foundation of the South Okanagan
    • Lumby & District Health Services
    • OSNS-Okanagan Similkameen Neurological Society
    • Penticton Peach Festival Society
    • Similkameen Country
    • SOWINS-South Okanagan Women in Need Society
    • Survivorship Dragon Boat
    • United Way
    • Valley First Axel Merckx Granfondo Okanagan

    Feed the Valley

    • Armstrong Food Bank/Boys & Girls Club
    • Food Banks B.C.
    • Global Okanagan
    • Kamloops Food Bank & Outreach Society
    • Kelowna Community Food Bank Society
    • Lumby Food Bank
    • Oliver Food Bank
    • Peachland Food Bank
    • Penticton Vees Hockey Club
    • Perseus Winery
    • Princeton Crisis Assistance Society
    • Seventh Day Adventist Church Food Bank (Cawston & Area)
    • Shaw
    • Soup Sisters
    • SUN FM Radio
    • The Daily Courier
    • The Penticton Herald
    • The Penticton Salvation Army Food Bank
    • Vernon (and Enderby) Food Bank
    • Westside Community Food Bank
    • Valley First Crown of Curling
  • Valley First Community pic Valley First Community pic Valley First Community pic Valley First Community pic Valley First Community pic Valley First Community pic Valley First Community pic Valley First Community pic Valley First Community pic


  • Marcus Van Reeuwyk

    "I believe that when our members succeed, we succeed. There are so many examples that come to mind. Several years ago, I had a member who was experiencing some financial difficulties and needed a loan. Other financial institutions had turned him down and he wasn't sure how he was going to get his finances back on track. We were able to look at the whole situation and help him get on track to rebuild his financial future by providing him with an initial loan. Over the years, we assisted him in building his credit further and this year he was able to realize his financial dream of buying a home. That is succeeding together."

    Marcus Van Reeuwyk

    Personal Account Manager

    Envision Financial's Chilliwack City branch

  • Stuart Harrison

    "Valuing all means treating everyone who comes into my branch with the same respect, dignity and professionalism, regardless of how much money they have in their account. It means getting to know members by name, not by account number. It means putting myself in members' shoes, listening with an open mind, and seeing members' financial dreams through their eyes."

    Stuart Harrison

    Personal Account Manager

    Envision Financial's Willoughby branch

  • Kelley Pehl

    "Being a good neighbour is very dear to my heart. I take tremendous pride in volunteering and helping make things happen in the community. By coaching kids' sports, teaching junior achievement in elementary schools and helping out with numerous charitable events, I feel I can truly act local. I'm grateful to have a fantastic employer in Valley First that encourages and supports my involvement in the community."

    Kelley Pehl

    Senior Account Manager, Commercial Banking

    Valley First's Kamloops branch

  • Ian Lee

    "When I'm working with my members, the reality is that not all situations fit within our guidelines and policies. At Envision Financial, we're encouraged to look at the bigger picture and at all relevant factors to make common sense decisions that are based on relationships, not policy. Our members recognize that this differentiates us from many other financial institutions. When I'm able to help a member in that way, word travels quickly and Envision Financial's newest member is on my doorstep."

    Ian Lee

    Personal Account Manager

    Envision Financial's North Delta branch

  • Michelle Harrison

    "Creating good things is about giving our members a better experience every time they interact with us. In my role, I get to apply Lean principles to make things simpler, faster and more efficient. We focus on what matters to members and eliminate what doesn't. Every problem is an opportunity for us to improve. It's about working together to build something better than what we had before."

    Michelle Harrison

    Continuous Service Improvement Business Partner

    First West Shared Services, Langley

  • Carole Barker

    "To me, inspiring exceptional results is to be the best you can be (or better) every day, in your interactions with all people, and with opportunities or challenges. As a Valley First employee I definitely am empowered by our leaders to make a difference. But it's not only our leaders that inspire me—hearing others' stories and successes and the differences they are making inspires me just as much. There's quote I like by Barbara Januszkiewicz that sums it up: "Creative thinking inspires ideas. Ideas inspire change."

    Carole Barker

    Executive Assistant

    Valley First regional office, Penticton

  • Theresa Antonick

    "My colleagues and I have been very successful at connecting with new members. Through letters, phone calls, personal meetings and introductions to our financial experts, we've welcomed numerous new personal and business members. This is no small feat, as we're always doing our best to exceed expectations while adding the personal touch to our service. By taking a team approach and committing to succeeding together, we've achieved outstanding results."

    Theresa Antonick

    Personal Banking Representative

    Valley First's Princeton branch

  • Raman Sidhu

    "Our branch cares about our local community and is involved in causes and activities that matter to our community, like Abbotsford's annual Sikh Parade. Our branch wanted to be part of the parade in a way that was meaningful, so my family got together and made over 200 samosas. Then on the day of the parade, our branch team got together to hand out samosas and chick pea curry to local residents watching the parade. This simple gesture brought so much joy to everyone and to me—that's what acting local is all about."

    Raman Sidhu

    Assistant Branch Manager

    Envision Financial's Minter Street branch

  • Stacy Schieman

    "I was raised to value all and treat everyone with respect and dignity, just as I would like to be treated. At Valley First, our members matter most and they have all come to know and expect only the highest level of service. As part of Valley First's Believe Team, it's terrific to have the opportunity to share the beliefs that are so close to my heart while at the same time encouraging and supporting others to do the same."

    Stacy Schieman

    Customer Service Representative

    Valley First Insurance, Vernon

  • Michelle Fitzgerald

    "Making common-sense decisions is the knack of seeing things as they are but doing things the way they ought to be done. At Valley First, we're encouraged to follow our instincts. By sharing ideas and solutions with our colleagues, we're simplifying the way we do business with our members and with each other. Making common-sense decisions allows us to exercise free thinking today, to make things better tomorrow."

    Michelle Fitzgerald

    Mortgage Administrator

    Valley First's Mortgage Broker Centre, Kelowna

  • Chris Dennis

    "To me, creating good things means continually making improvements that benefit our members. My team in I.T. harnesses information across First West's different systems and uses it to help leaders and member-facing employees make better decisions that ultimately make things better for our members. I'm particularly proud of some of the unique data innovations we've provided for our commercial banking members. We've enabled them to be more successful in their businesses. That's what it's all about."

    Chris Dennis

    Manager, Enterprise Solutions

    First West Shared Services, Penticton

  • Suki Sidhu

    "As a leader, I play a crucial role in being supportive of my team and ensuring they're confident in their ability to succeed. Inspiring exceptional results is all about helping our people see their potential and helping them believe that they can reach their goals. Our team is empowered by leaders that support us, listen to us and provide us with the tools and resources needed to achieve results. I feel fortunate to have continued coaching to help me inspire my team to achieve even more than they thought was possible."

    Suki Sidhu

    Insurance Services Manager

    Envision Financial's White Rock Insurance


Financial Results

  • Deposits from members increased 8.8%, or $405 million to $5.0 billion.
  • Loans to members increased 8.9%, or $424 million to $5.1 billion.
  • Total assets increased 7.8%, or $428 million to $5.8 billion.
  • Net income declined 20.2%, or $6.9 million to $26.5 million.
  • Membership grew by more than 3.0%.
  • First West paid dividends of $1 million to members, bringing total dividends paid over the last 11 years to $16.7 million.
  • More than $1.8 million was invested in building healthier communities.


  • Retail

    2012 Highlights

    • Retail lending growth up $254 million, or 7.3% to $3.7 billion.
    • Retail deposits growth up $164 million, or 5.4% to $3.2 billion.
    • 2,280 new Simply Free Accounts opened in five months—since product launch in July 2012.
    • Completed the rebranding of Vintage Hills to Valley First, relocated the Envision Financial Scottsdale branch to Sunshine Hills and completed the renovation of Envision Financial's Town Centre branch to include the Minter Street commercial team.
    • Achieved 86% on the Member Experience Index, well over the industry benchmark of 81%.
    Carole Barker

    "We recently opened accounts for each of our grandchildren and we really appreciated the great service from all of the Envision Financial employees. They all made us feel welcome and made our experience very special. I was impressed by how smooth everything was. We have our account with Envision, as well as our mortgage, credit card, car loan, home insurance, and three cars insured through Envision. Envision works hard to help us with our financial needs and does so with a caring approach. We value the shining efforts of Envision."

    Ron St. Hilaire

    Envision Financial member

  • Outlook for 2013

    We expect B.C.'s economy to grow at a moderate pace in 2013. Housing starts are forecast to decline and geopolitical uncertainty is expected to dampen economic growth in all developed economies. We believe these conditions will lead to modest growth in consumer lending, for residential mortgages, consumer loans and lines of credit. We expect retail lending to grow by 3.2% in 2013, which is reflective of softening demand.

    Given the continued European and U.S. fiscal issues along with high consumer debt levels in the U.S. and Canada, interest rates are not expected to increase until 2014 as concerns over the stalled global economy persist. We are, therefore, maintaining a cautious balance sheet growth strategy throughout 2013.

    Our priority in 2013 is to build on the groundwork laid in 2012, which means continuing to improve processes and capabilities while gaining efficiencies and controlling costs by leveraging the strengths of our large, growing organization.

    We increased our investment in our branch network this year by opening our new RiverBend branch in North Kamloops and relocating our Scottsdale branch to a new facility at Sunshine Hills in North Delta. In early 2013 we opened our new Rutland branch in Kelowna, complete with banking, wealth and insurance services. We are also relocating our Minter Street branch to High Street in west Abbotsford in late 2013.

    Our ongoing commitment to keeping it simple and making common-sense decisions for our members remains strong as we continue to equip our employees with the tools, resources and training to help members make smart investment decisions. We plan to increase net membership growth by 3% in 2013 with the assistance of online marketing strategies.

  • Commercial Banking

    2012 Highlights

    • Grew commercial loans by $167 million, or 13.1% to $1.4 billion.
    • Deposit growth of $238 million, or 15.7% to $1.8 billion.
    • Established new banking relationships with the City of Vernon and Corporation of Delta.
    • Launched the Unlimited Chequing for Business® account in the Valley First region and also re-introduced it in the Envision Financial region.
    • Relocated Envision Financial's Minter Street commercial banking team to the newly-renovated Town Centre branch in Abbotsford.
    Carole Barker

    "Valley First is a great example of an Okanagan-based organization that cares deeply about its communities and is focused on giving back in support of the businesses and families in this region. The City of Vernon is proud to have an association with an Okanagan-based financial institution that places such a high priority in supporting our community."

    Courtenay Pitcher

    Communications Officer, City of Vernon

  • Outlook for 2013

    British Columbia's commercial growth is expected to be modest in 2013, but First West sees the commercial segment as a growth opportunity. Lending growth for 2013 is expected to be 7.5% versus a forecast of 11.8% projected in 2012. We have made strong gains in this segment in late 2012 and expect to continue that momentum into 2013.

    In 2013, we will leverage the strong relationships with our local businesses and emphasize local decision-making and insight to maintain a competitive advantage in all of our markets. We have already made great strides in our promise to keep it simple for our members by simplifying the onboarding process for new members. Our Unlimited Chequing for Business® account, one of the most competitive products in the market, will drive new business member growth in 2013. We will also seek to increase market share by expanding our focus in areas such as institutional deposit accounts and the manufacturing, wholesale and processional services sectors along with a strengthened sales management focus.

  • Insurance Services

    2012 Highlights

    • SmartPay revenue 35% over plan.
    • Launched regionally-branded travel insurance product and added three new insurance providers to help win our local marketplaces.
    • Home insurance policy retention remains strong at over 94%.
    • Relocated Village Green insurance office in Vernon to newly-renovated location within the Village Green mall.
    Carole Barker

    "What a pleasure it is to bring our services to Envision Insurance. We went shopping for a better rate and came back because everyone here is so professional, knowledgeable and they made us feel so welcome."

    Lambertus and Helas Wolters

    Envision Insurance clients

  • Outlook for 2013

    In 2013, First West is striving to grow insurance profits by 30%. To accomplish this, we are putting products that are more competitive into the hands of our employees, so that we can offer better products to our customers at better prices. We are also focusing on growing our commercial insurance revenue and we are striving to improve operational efficiency. We have made changes to streamline and strengthen the Insurance Services team to better support the regions in our sales activities and processes, working together to retain business and win new clients.

    Since Valley First and Envision Financial joined together to form First West in 2010, we have operated three insurance legal entities, which amalgamated into one at the beginning of 2012. This was an important step because it has improved the way we collaborate and support our regional sales teams. We also created a single back office insurance team that ensures our sales teams are well-equipped to provide customers with outstanding service.

    In 2013, we will leverage our size and move to core suppliers across both regions, gaining better products and pricing for our members and clients. Operational efficiency will also remain a focus. We will consolidate offices and streamline processes where it makes sense. 2013 will be a planning year for our conversion to a single operating system in 2014, resulting in increased efficiencies and standardization.

  • Wealth Management

    2012 Highlights

    • Increased wealth management revenues by 6.7%, or $0.6 million to $9.1 million.
    • Increased mutual fund assets under administration by 0.75%, or $8.1 million to $1.1 billion.
    • $1.9 million achieved in income from operations.
    • Valley First investment advisors are now licensed with the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, joining all Envision Financial investment advisors, enabling them to provide the full range of investment solutions to our members.
    Carole Barker

    "Having used Envision Financial's wealth management services for a number of years now, I can honestly say I wish we had taken advantage of it sooner. We had dealt with several other financial institutions (large and small) in the past and none of them served us nearly as well. Our investment advisor has done a tremendous job of managing our accounts, investments and retirement planning. With the help of their comprehensive long-term financial planning we are now comfortably retired."

    Larry & Virginia Vail

    Envision Financial wealth management clients

  • Outlook for 2013

    In 2012, the economic climate was challenging, causing investors to act more cautiously and invest more in guaranteed products like GICs. We expect these challenges to continue in 2013. The Europe debt crisis, coupled with the sluggish economic recovery in the United States will be a key factor in consumers' investment decisions. People are still concerned about managing their personal debt due to the ongoing unstable job environment.

    These challenges may present strong opportunities for growth in our credit union's wealth management line of business because investors are seeking advice on how to preserve and increase their wealth to save for retirement. We are well-positioned to grow market share in this business as we enter the second year of our new wealth management strategy and are expecting improved growth in our business by providing more advice, more often to a greater number of members. We are optimistic yet realize that most economists do not anticipate growth beyond 2%, which translates into a relatively flat equities market. As a result, First West may not see many people move their funds into fixed income products, but because we are well-equipped to provide advice, we can bring wealth management business from other financial institutions to us.

  • First West Capital

    2012 Highlights

    • 16 deals approved, representing more than $22 million in commitments.
    • 77% increase in year-over-year loan volumes.
    • Two transactions approved in Alberta.
    • $16 million in new total loan assets in 2012.
    Carole Barker

    "We are proud to be a Canadian company operating at the highest echelons of the diamond industry. As part of our growth plan, we found First West Capital to excel in providing the necessary solutions to our business needs. When partnering with financing providers, we look for lenders with practical solutions and First West Capital has shown that they are a practical and business-forward lender. Our partnership will enable us to continue to compete on the international stage."

    Uri Ariel, President

    Crossworks Manufacturing Ltd.

  • Outlook for 2013

    In 2013, First West Capital will continue to focus on becoming the leader in mid-market subordinated and mezzanine debt financing, not just in British Columbia but across Western Canada.Our focus will remain on financing programs that include changes of ownership, growth, refinancing and recapitalizations ranging from $500,000 to $7 million.

    First West Capital will continue to invest in people, infrastructure and systems in support of this growth.We will continue to focus on supporting small and medium-sized businesses with financing for acquisitions, management buyouts and growth. There will be an ongoing emphasis placed on sourcing diversified and high quality deal flow, robust due diligence and credit structuring, careful and regular loan monitoring, and prudent risk management.

  • Automotive Financing

    2012 Highlights

    • Provided credit union members with a credit union financing option at 842 franchised car dealers across B.C.
    • 16.6% increase in net income $2.6 million.
    • 15.4% growth in the number of leases.
    • Expanded our services to include equipment leasing.
    • 2,500 vehicles purchases adjudicated, up more than 10% from 2011.
    • 82% increase in leasing and 44% increase in loans year-over-year in the Okanagan region.
    • 89% increase in leasing in Alberta year-over-year.
    Carole Barker

    "It has been our pleasure dealing with First West Credit Union. The quality of service that they provide to us and our customers is top notch. We always feel very confident that when we arrange auto financing for our customers with First West that they will be well looked after. Everyone we have worked with there consistently does a great job."

    Cathy Greschner

    Preston Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac Ltd.

  • Outlook for 2013

    The recession in 2008 and 2009 saw many of the American auto manufacturers withdraw completely from the auto leasing market. However, with the strengthening of the economy in 2011 and 2012, many of these competitors have returned to the market. Despite their return, we are experiencing continued growth in First West's auto and leasing sales.

    In 2013, we will deepen our operations in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys, expand further into Alberta and grow our equipment leasing business. Our goal is to increase our leasing revenues by 10% in 2013. In addition to expanding our presence in our markets, we will provide enhanced leasing options and focus on improving our speed and service in processing loan and leasing applications.

    The growth of automotive financing helps First West stay competitive by diversifying our operations. This strategy also advances our brand promise, Keeping it Simple™, because it enables us to meet the full spectrum of our members financial needs.


First West Foundation

  • $332,795

    donated in 2012 to projects that enhance the quality of life in Valley First's and Envision Financial's communities

  • 59

    charitable organizations, agencies and projects in our communities supported by the First West Foundation in 2012

  • $26,067

    collected and distributed in 2012 through flow-through grants

  • 7

    permanent endowments within the First West Foundation

  • $8 million

    in total assets at year-end 2012

The First West Foundation was established in 1996 by the credit union as a perpetual source of community funding. Each year, the credit union donates a small portion of its profit to grow the Envision Financial and Valley First Community Endowments. Since inception, the Foundation has proudly distributed nearly $2.4 million to charities working to improve the quality of life in our communities.

The First West Foundation's purpose is to support initiatives that enhance the quality of life in our communities and to create capital for sustainable community support by encouraging philanthropy. The Foundation currently administers seven permanent endowments, the largest two being the Envision Financial Community Endowment and the Valley First Community Endowment.

The Foundation is overseen by a board of directors made up of active and retired board members of the credit union. The credit union's Envision and Valley First regional councils also determine the funding focus and oversee the distribution of grants from the Envision Financial and Valley First Community Endowments, respectively.

The First West Foundation encourages contributions from credit union members and our communities as we work to grow our endowments and expand our ability to support life-changing causes. Members can also create their own donor-advised funds with life-time donations, or through bequests. For more information about the First West Foundation, visit us online at

Our Community

A Selection of Our Partners

BC Cancer Foundation Big Brothers Big Sisters Boys and Girls Clubs Canuck Place Children of the Street Society Open Door Group Penticton & District Reach Whitevalley YWCA Metro Vancouver Salvation Army United Way

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First West

Online brokerage services are offered through Qtrade Investor. Securities and securities-related financial planning services are offered through Qtrade Advisor. Qtrade Investor and Qtrade Advisor are divisions of Qtrade Securities Inc., member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Mutual funds and securities-related financial planning services are also offered through Qtrade Asset Management Inc., member MFDA.