The second point of the the Desired Director attributes and Experience was “Deep understanding of the communities Vancity serves and the opportunities and risks of delivering financial services.
Having grown up in Vancouver and lived here most of my life one sees the changes in our community over the years. Working in the Fraser Valley for a number of years I was able to compare how both communities were changing. Each community has a different history with a different set of challenges. Some were very similar. In years not too distance, it was the local branch that one made their deposit at and the local branch that you withdrew your cash. The network of ATMs now do this. Automatic deposits, transfer and bill paying have changed how we manage our finances. There continues to be an evolvement of these services.
The digital channel supplies information and allows us to transact business ourselves. But most of us as members need financial advice at certain times. Mortgages used to be a key transaction but with the affordability of housing will that be less of the case? Does the change in employment patterns require different products to service a members needs? The use of technology to give new opportunities is a given these days. The risk of delivering these financial services is also the new norm.
But will a technical algorithm with any product deliver everything we need. There always needs to be a pathway to allow the exception. Our needs are not always exactly the same and there needs to be a human understanding and decision at times. This is a key factor in making a difference and managing the risk of delivery of financial services. Reliance only on the two dimensions of digital communication cannot cover all circumstances. Vancity is a credit union that has kept the human factor in mind even as it has grown. That understanding is so important today.
After working in the credit union movement for the past 36 years it was time to retire last June. My wife was retiring from being a special needs teach in the Burnaby school system and we were ready to enter this new phase of our lives together. The summer was great.
A few people had approached me as to what I was going to do and my initial plan was just to take it easy. When asked if I would run for the Vancity Board it didn’t get considered until i read the Desired Director attributes and Experience on the Vancity web site. Then something stated to make sense with their request. This blog post and the other that follow will be a deeper dive as to why.
There were four points with the first topic under Community Focus – ”Demonstrated commitment to cooperative values and principles”. This was the most important one for me.
Credit unions are cooperatives that deliver financial services to members. Cooperatives have a unique role in our society for a variety of reasons and there a 7 principles of cooperatives that define us. Again Vancity had these distinctly pointed out to a link on their web page. The identity, culture and existence of a cooperative is embodied in these principles. Without a constant sifting of decisions that are made in concert with these principles, cooperatives will tend to act as corporations. The dilemma with cooperatives is that we haven’t been that good at articulating our reasons for existence in modern day terms to our communities. We need to constantly define and act out what a cooperative is in the setting we exist in. As the world moves forward this need becomes very apparent. Without it we become less relevant.
My career was based on these principles through the involvement of the credit unions I worked for and the work done with other credit unions both large and small. When commitment to these values and principles are aligned and lived, much of the meaning of why things are done, why directions and strategies are set and why we exist in the first place are understood. It makes total sense. I feel very comfortable that Vancity has this as a first point in building and maintaining their board.
Next – Community Focus #2 – Understanding communities