Effective January 5, 2022:
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Credit unions are not-for-profit, financial service cooperatives, owned and controlled by their members, and operating in a democratic way. As co-ops, credit unions operate solely for their members’ benefit, rather than to make a profit.
Credit unions were founded on the principle of people helping people. When you join a credit union, you become part of a community. A community that exists to help its members grow and prosper financially. You become something bigger than just an account number. You become a member-owner with the power to shape the future of the credit union through your voice and your vote. You become part of a movement that exists solely for the purpose of meeting the financial needs of their member-owners by following seven cooperative principles.
All co-op businesses run in accordance with seven basic principles.
It’s important that members voluntarily choose to become members. Cooperatives are “open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership…”
Members ultimately control their cooperatives. When you attend your credit union’s annual meeting or vote for the board of directors, you’re exercising your member control.
“Cooperatives operate so that capital is the servant, not the master, of the organization.”
While governments determine the legislative framework within which co-ops function, this principle asserts that co-ops also have an “essential need to be autonomous in the same way that enterprises controlled by capital are…”
This principle says members can play their role in the cooperative only when they understand that role and the co-op. That’s one reason, for example, that your credit union provides you with this information and other educational tools.
Those managing a cooperative believe that co-ops have a unique opportunity to protect and expand the interests of ordinary people. This kind of one-for-all and all-for-one idea is unique. Even in areas where they compete, it’s common for credit unions to cooperate on activities.
Cooperatives exist primarily for the benefit of their members. Because of this strong association with members, they also are often closely and actively tied to their communities.
Edward Filene, founder of the first credit union in the United States.
A recognized visionary and innovator, Don W. Lewis has been a leader in the credit union movement for more than 40 years.
Thank you for your patience and understanding throughout the past year, as we navigated through an unprecedented time in history. The global pandemic was unlike anything most of us have experienced in our lifetime. While it challenged us in many ways, it also made us stronger and more resilient. If ever there were a time we saw people working together to help others, it was this past year.
Our infrastructure and business continuity plans were put to a real-life test, as two-thirds of our workforce quickly transitioned to a remote work environment at the beginning of the pandemic. The speed and efficiency with which we were able to enact this transition, while continuing to serve you, our member-owners, demonstrates a strong return on the investments we have made in people and technology. Every department and every individual quickly adapted to new ways of working. As a result, we found improved and more streamlined ways to serve you, which will be carried forward well beyond the end of the pandemic. We thrived in this new environment, which is reflected in the strong asset growth and member growth we experienced. Your credit union grew from $1.48 billion in assets in 2019 to $1.79 billion in assets in 2020, and from 137,963 members in 2019 to 142,176 members in 2020.
Keeping the safety of our member-owners and credit union family as our highest priority, we relied on guidance from health experts, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as we adapted to new ways of conducting business to meet your needs. Initially, we scaled in-person service down to four hub branches utilizing drive-thru service, then expanded that model to other branch locations, eventually adding lobby appointments to accommodate in-person member service needs.
At the same time, we educated member-owners on the numerous ways to complete transactions from the safety and comfort of their homes using online and mobile banking, mobile deposit, as well as other contactless methods, such as ATMs for deposits and withdrawals. Online and mobile banking were enhanced to include the ability to make external transfers between APGFCU and other financial institutions, while the introduction of mobile wallets provided a contactless way to pay for purchases at the point of sale.
Throughout the pandemic we have made it our priority to serve as a beacon of hope to our member-owners and the community. It is important for you to know we are here for you, whether for emergency assistance, financial counseling or everyday financial needs. The credit union movement was built upon the philosophy of “people helping people.” This annual report details the many ways we strove to put that philosophy into action to make a difference in the lives of our member-owners and the community.
That included adapting our financial education delivery model, which enabled us to continue offering sessions remotely. We firmly believe imparting financial knowledge is the key to empowering individuals to control their own money and build their wealth. We focus heavily on youth financial education to affect generational change. Despite limitations on in-person instruction due to the pandemic, we adapted our delivery methods and reached 2,600 young people through 287 youth financial literacy sessions in 2020. As children bring materials home, we also reach parents and guardians, allowing our message to reach multiple generations. The concept is to begin financial education early, so each new generation is equipped to improve economically beyond the previous generation.
Another way we adapted is by holding our annual meeting virtually, rather than in-person, for everyone’s safety and well-being. While we have missed seeing you at this event, we have received positive feedback on the virtual format, including from those who live out of state and were able to attend for the first time. We look forward to the day we can see you again in person.
I would like to thank our board for their dedication and direction, and our resilient staff, who remained committed to providing quality service to our member-owners while adapting to new protocols. We have been in this together all along, and have come out stronger as a result. It’s not possible to go through something like a global pandemic without changing. Here at APGFCU, that change has been for the better – with more efficient and improved ways to serve you, no matter where you may be located. Your credit union continues to grow, particularly in terms of members and shares, which are a strong sign of a bright future. Outside audits and exams continue to show you have a safe and secure place to build your wealth.
Thank you for entrusting us as your financial partner.
Don W. Lewis President/CEO