Having just experienced my first (and what will be my only) holiday season as the interim CEO, I’m pleased to provide an update as we begin the New Year. I continue to be impressed by the employees of SF Fire Credit Union. Their dedication to providing exceptional service is the driving force behind the organization, and why we have a loyal and engaged membership. Our membership has always been, and will always be, key to the success of the Credit Union. Whether it’s giving us the opportunity to meet your financial services needs or helping us raise funds for SF Firefighter’s Toy Program, we’re grateful for your support.
Looking Back at 2016
A year-in-review for any Credit Union should always include a review of its financials. While we’re still in the process of “closing the books” on 2016, it appears to have been another successful year. As of November 30th (and compared to year-end of 2015), the Credit Union’s assets has grown by $70 million. More importantly, our net income for the year has exceeded $7.7 million. Capital Reserves surpassed $97 million, which helps to ensure that we’ll be serving members for many years to come.
We also completed a number of significant projects to improve the level of service we provide, or to prepare us for the key initiatives we’ve got planned for the coming year. We made a significant upgrade to our core operating system to improve the performance of our current Online and Mobile Banking systems, while new replacement systems are developed. We also began production of EMV chip debit cards, which offer a higher level of security and acceptance abroad.
Key Initiatives for 2017
We have a busy year ahead, with many key initiatives planned for 2017. Highlights include several programs which have been highly anticipated by members. The re-issue of all debit cards to include EMV chip technology will begin this February, and be completed within a few months. We’ve been advised by our card processing partners to expect a Samsung and Android (Google) Pay launch this Summer. Having made the decision to work with an established Online and Mobile Banking provider (rather than utilize systems which are developed in-house), we hope to launch entirely new systems by October.
Upcoming Changes to Fees & Contact Center Hours
It’s an ongoing responsibility for us to assess and balance the needs of the membership, our employees, and the Credit Union itself. After reviewing our plans for the coming year, we decided upon several changes which will be implemented in the first quarter of 2017:
New Contact Center Hours: To better align demand (volume of calls) with the work-life balance of employees, we will be reducing our Contact Center hours effective February 1st. The Contact Center will be available Monday – Saturday from 7AM to 8PM, and closed Sundays and major holidays. As with our current ‘After Hours’ phone services, members will continue to have the ability to perform account transactions and inquires with our trusted partner, Shared Branching, when we are closed.
Changes to Fees: We reviewed our fee schedule to ensure that our services are appropriately priced, while at the same time providing enough revenue to cover our operating expenses. Just a handful of fees will be changing on March 1st, with the most notable related to ATM usage. The number of monthly ATM rebates will be reduced from twelve to six. We’ll also be limiting members to six free ‘out-of-network’ transactions per month, with a fee on each transaction performed thereafter. We expect these changes to ATM fees to impact less than five percent of our membership, and with over 30,000 surcharge-free, ‘in-network’ ATMs in the Credit Union CO-OP Network and easy-to-use ATM locator tools available, we’re confident members will continue to have easy access to cash at minimal or no cost (see “Changes to Fees” article).
In closing, I’d like to remind all that the New Year will also bring a new and permanent CEO to the Credit Union. The Board of Directors has had the privilege of reviewing a large and accomplished pool of candidates, and is confident an individual well-suited to SF Fire Credit Union will be selected in the coming months. I look forward to working with that person, and helping them assume their new position.