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    Vote Caps Local Credit Union Merger

    Marco Procaccini

    It’s final. The lower mainland’s latest credit union merger has been approved by the members two well-established organizations.

    United Savings and the Gulf and Fraser Financial Group have voted over 86 per cent in favour of forming one credit union.

    “United Savings is a solid, dynamic and growing credit union,” said Vince Fiamengo, chair of the Board of Directors of G&F Financial Group. “We are very energized by the positive outcome of the membership vote and the opportunities that it affords both credit unions.”

    The new financial cooperative, which still has to finalize its new name, will now consist of approximately 30,000 members with an asset base of $650 million administered by over 160 employees in 12 branches in Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and Surrey.

    “In blending these two organizations, we have created a more viable, effective and responsive credit
    union that will maximize the benefits of membership for all our members in the months and years to
    come,” stated Ed McIntosh, chair of United Savings Credit Union.

    No layoffs or branch closures are planned as a result of the merger, according to Martin Reed, marketing director for G & F.

    “No branches are going to close,” he said, adding that expansion of the new credit union’s network was a main motivator behind the merger. “In fact, we’re looking at maybe more branches opening with new jobs.”

    The new merger is the latest in a series of combinations by numerous smaller credit unions in the last five years. Reed says this is partly due pressure from the ever-increasing power of the major banks and the rising cost of new technology required for financial servicing. This includes new data processing systems and Internet services.

    “It gets to a point where a smaller credit union has to decide how much it will raise its service fees for its members (for this new technology) or what services it will not provide,” he said. “Main goal of credit unions is not to maximize profits for a small group. It’s to provide the best affordable service to their members. That’s what this merger will help us do.”

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