Using the mantra ‘together we are better,’ Interior Savings and Gulf & Fraser are merging to create a first-of-its-kind, province-wide credit union.
“(We) look forward to what we will accomplish together, taking all that is great about our two credit unions and making it even better,” said Interior Savings CEO Brian Harris.
Becoming province-wide gives the new bigger credit union the increased, combined resources and scale to better serve members in the increasingly competitive banking industry.
The merger will take effect Jan. 1, but members of both credit unions won’t see any immediate changes.
Members can continue to bank, invest and borrow as they normally would.
All branches and operations of both credit unions will continue to operate under their existing names for at least 12-18 months.
However, as banking system integration gets underway, members will be informed of any changes right away and any disruption will be kept to a minimum.
The new combined financial institution will operate under the legal name Beem Credit Union.
While there’s no immediate rebranding of branches with a new name, that may come in the future.
Interior Savings' CEO Brian Harris will be the new CEO of Beem.
“Together, we will be able to offer our members greater access to branches for personal, face-to-face service no matter where they live or travel in the province,” said Gulf & Fraser co-CEOs Bill Kiss and Jeff Shewfelt.
“We can also invest more resources to meet the needs of our members today and into the future who are looking for improved digital services, while offering improved training and career development opportunities for employees and increased investment in our communities.”
The new, bigger credit union will have 55 branches and 14 insurance offices throughout the Okanagan, Thompson, Prince George, Grand Forks, Vancouver, the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, 160,000 members and $10.1 billion of assets under administration.
Kelowna-based Interior Savings brought to the table 27 branches in 17 communities, 14 insurance offices and 90,000 members.
The communities it serves include Kelowna, Kamloops, Prince George, West Kelowna, Lake Country, Penticton, Vernon, Oliver, Okanagan Falls, Lillooet, Merritt, Clearwater, Chase, Barrier, Ashcroft, Fort St. John, Fort Nelson and Hudson’s Hope.
The Interior Savings of today is already a result of a several mergers – most recently bringing North Peace Savings (Fort St. John, Fort Nelson and Hudson’s Hope) and Spruce Credit Union (Prince George) into the fold.
Previously, Interior Savings doubled in size after mergers with Okanagan Savings Credit Union in 1999 and Thompson Valley Savings in 2002.
Gulf & Fraser Credit Union brings to the merger 71,000 members and 28 branches throughout Vancouver, the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Grand Forks.
Talks between the two credit unions started last year and then in April of this year the two credit unions applied for a merger with the BC Financial Services Authority.
The authority gave permission for a vote of members in September and then between Oct. 20 and Nov. 6, 12,000 members of the two credit unions cast ballots with 88% of Interior Savings members voting in favour of merger and 81% of Gulf & Fraser members voting ‘yes.’
A minimum of 67% of votes cast from each credit union must be in favour in order for a merger to move ahead.
Each vote carried with it a donation to the United Way’s BC Wildfire Recovery Fund for a total of $25,000.
For more information on the merged credit union, go to www.togetherwearebetter.ca