LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - April 8, 2013) - First West Credit Union -

  • Membership grew by more than 3.0%

  • Total assets increased 7.8% to $5.8 billion

  • Loans increased 8.9% to $5.1 billion

  • Deposits increased 8.8%, or $405 million to $5.0 billion

  • Earnings of $32 million before tax

  • Made commitments of more than $22 million through First West Capital

  • More than $1.8 million was invested in building healthier communities

First West Credit Union reports financial results for the full fiscal year ending December 31, 2012.

"In 2012, the entire First West team made exceptional strides to grow our credit union, resulting in total assets increasing by more than $426 million and another year of strong membership growth," says First West CEO Launi Skinner, who was named one of Canada's Top 100™ Most Powerful Women by the Women's Executive Network for a third consecutive year. "We also launched our innovative Simply Free Account™, introduced Referral Perks™ and began offering the Unlimited Chequing for Business® account across our entire network. We're keeping banking simple for our members and making it easier and more rewarding for them to do business with us."

Tom Webster, First West CFO adds, "We experienced what most financial institutions did, with a low interest rate environment compressing margins in 2012, but First West was able to invest in our growth while also generating solid financial results. We expanded our branch network, introduced innovative products and services, and helped our local communities by contributing more than $1.6 million of our operating profit through scholarships, sponsorships and donations last year. In 2013, we'll continue to make strategic growth investments. We'll also focus on further diversifying our revenue sources in insurance, wealth management, automotive leasing and commercial banking. First West Credit Union is well positioned to continue its growth trajectory."

First West Credit Union also welcomed a third brand to its network of local community credit unions - Enderby & District Credit Union (EDCU). Through First West's unique partnership model, EDCU retains its local brand, local leadership and community focus, and effective April 1, 2013, is now known as Enderby & District Financial, a division of First West Credit Union.

"Having a third partner join the First West family ahead of our three-year strategic plan target demonstrates the attractiveness of our locally-focused credit union," adds Skinner. "We've seen how our model helps credit unions stay local, but tap into all the benefits that come with being part of a larger organization, like innovative products, increased purchasing power and higher lending caps. We're excited to welcome Enderby & District Financial and look forward to even more growth in our local communities."

First West 2012 online annual report showcases innovation and the keeping it simple brand promise

First West's inaugural online annual report, which embraces innovation, interactivity and our keeping it simple brand promise, is now available. Learn more 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.

The online annual report is informative and simple to navigate while being less costly than previous hardcopy versions. The approach reinforces our commitment to also spend wisely and improve operational efficiency throughout the credit union.

2012 business highlights:

Envision Financial and Valley First say good-bye to banking fees with the launch of the Simply Free Account™

In summer 2012, First West Credit Union unveiled the Simply Free Account™ to Envision Financial and Valley First members. It's one way we're keeping it simple for members-giving them a perfect everyday account and the only banking account that offers free Interac® e-transfers™ in Canada. Since its launch in late summer, thousands of new and existing members have taken advantage of the Simple Free Account, saving them over $1 million in banking fees. The successful uptake of the new Simply Free Account also translated into $100 million in mortgages and loans by new members.

New Referral Perks program makes it easy for Envision Financial and Valley First members to refer their friends and family

In September, First West Credit Union introduced Referral Perks™ to Envision Financial and Valley First members. Through the program, both the referrer and referee receive a $50 prepaid MasterCard® for every successful referral and new chequing account opening, up to $250 per year.

The Unlimited Chequing for Business® account helps small businesses save money and simplify business banking

The Unlimited Chequing for Business® account was introduced in the Valley First region and relaunched in the Envision Financial region in October 2012. For only $20 per month, this account includes a number of unlimited transactions, including deposits, in-branch withdrawals, cheque clearing, online and in-branch transfers and bill payments, free monthly statements and cheque images, ATM transactions and preauthorized debits and credits. Unlimited Chequing for Business® enables small business owners to focus their money on growing their business.

Envision Financial and Valley First launch top-rated mobile apps for iPhones and Androids

First West unveiled its free mobile banking apps to Valley First and Envision Financial members in late 2012, enabling members to bank anytime, anywhere. This user-friendly app makes it simple for members to check their account information and rates, transfer money, pay bills and schedule transactions on the go. Since its launch, the iPhone app has been downloaded more than 10,000 times and the Android app more than 1,000 times.

First West Credit Union expands branch network

First West Credit Union understands the importance of staying local and strengthening its brand in the communities in which it operates, and in 2012 made important investments in expanding its branch network. The Vintage Hills branch in Westbank (formerly Envision Financial) was rebranded to be a Valley First location, the Envision Financial Town Centre branch was renovated and updated, and Envision's Scottsdale branch was relocated to Sunshine Hills in North Delta. In the Valley First region, the new RiverBend branch in North Kamloops and Rutland branch in Kelowna were opened, positioning First West well in the years ahead.

First West Credit Union significantly outperforms the Canadian mutual fund industry standard

Independent research firm Investor Economics reported that in 2012, First West Credit Union's wealth management asset growth was 14.6 per cent, approximately one-third higher than the industry standard of 10.9 per cent. A key measure of this growth is net flows as a percentage of beginning assets-First West achieved growth of 8.3 per cent, almost three times the industry average of 2.8 per cent. Working closely in partnership with Qtrade, the number one online brokerage according to The Globe and Mail's annual survey, First West's wealth management teams at Envision Financial and Valley First are able to offer more advice more often to a greater number of members.

Local food banks gain much needed support with Feed the Valley and The Full Cupboard

According to the 2012 Hunger Count report from Food Banks Canada, food bank usage is on the rise, growing by an alarming 6.6 per cent in B.C. last year compared to 2011. First West employees are passionately committed to making a difference for this cause and in 2012, Feed the Valley, Valley First's signature cause, raised an incredible $150,000 and 32,000 pounds of food. This brings the program's totals close to $465,000 and 39,000 pounds of food since inception in March 2010. Following the success of Feed the Valley, The Full Cupboard was launched in the Envision Financial region in early 2013 in support of the important work of food banks in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Kitimat.

First West welcomes Enderby & District Credit Union to join First West Credit Union family

In October 2012, Enderby & District Credit Union (EDCU) entered discussions to join First West. After a special general meeting in March 2013, EDCU members voted unanimously to join B.C.'s third largest credit union. For First West, the merger marks a special milestone as well, as the credit union had planned to attract a third partner by the end of 2013, and having a third partner join the First West family well ahead of its target demonstrates yet again that British Columbians and Canadians appreciate the local focus of the credit union.

First West Foundation building a legacy in local communities

The First West Foundation, the private charitable arm of First West Credit Union, donated close to $333,000 in 2012 to charitable organizations in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Kitimat, and the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. The First West Foundation helps improve the quality of life for British Columbians in the communities served by First West Credit Union and its regional divisions-Envision Financial and Valley First-proudly contributing more than $2 million to charities over the last 16 years.

In March 2013, EDCU announced that it has established a new $500,000 endowment to be housed within the First West Foundation. The endowment was created as a legacy fund for the region and will support worthwhile community initiatives in the Enderby area.

Female credit union CEOs join forces with YWCA to help single moms

Launi Skinner, CEO of First West Credit Union, alongside with Tamara Vrooman of Vancity and Tracy Redies of Coast Capital Savings, entered into a three-year partnership with the YWCA to help single moms in Metro Vancouver. This $450,000 investment will fund six new single mothers' support groups, providing participants with the resources to gain employment, go back to school and find safe and affordable housing.

First West AGM scheduled in Penticton and Langley

First West will be holding its 2013 AGM on May 6 at the Penticton Lakeside Resort in Penticton, B.C. and on May 9 at the Cascades Casino Resort in Langley, B.C. For more details visit:

About First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union offers members the financial strength, comprehensive product selection and extended branch network of a large financial institution while maintaining local brand identities and a unique grassroots approach to service. Led by Launi Skinner, First West is British Columbia's third-largest credit union with $7.1 billion in assets under administration, more than 171,000 members and close to 1,300 employees. It operates 40 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial, Valley First and Enderby & District Financial brands. For more information on First West Credit Union, visit

Follow First West Credit Union on Twitter: @firstwestcu

Contact Information:

First West Credit Union
Cheryl Shaw
Media Contact