Friday , 7 May 2021

Lakeland Credit Union talking merger with rural Alberta institution

Lakeland Credit Union is exploring a merger with Camrose-based Vision Credit Union.

The first open house for members to ask about the potential merger was on Tuesday night in Cold Lake with one at the Centennial Centre’s VIP Lounge set for tonight.

LCU CEO Kelly McGiffin said conversations about a merger began in August as the institution began looking at ways to improve their services and their bottom line.

“There’s a duty to constantly look at strengthening those organizations going forward. Are we strong? Will we continue to be strong?” said McGiffin.

“One of the things that we looked at in identifying our credit union is it’s very dependent on one industry [oil and gas] in the two communities that we serve.

“We have a very strong, probably the strongest capital position of any financial institution in the country, in terms of capital or reserves. So, do we look at opportunities to strengthen ourselves even more, while we’re still strong through these challenging times? And we determined we would only do what if we found the right partner.”

McGiffin said members would see little change with the merger as LCU would still act autonomously and jobs will not be threatened.

However, he highlighted Vision’s service to members, which could see more profit sharing with Lakeland residents.

“Vision has actually got what I would call as a stronger patronage approach than what our members have even seen. So you may see enrichment in terms of profit share, and you would see more services because they’re very much into agriculture.

“We don’t serve agriculture as well as we would like to in this area. They would have those feet on the ground fairly quickly for our purposes. You would not lose anything, but as a member, you stand to gain quite a bit.”

Vision Credit Union has eleven branches in the Battle River area and northwest of the province with the closest in Two Hills.

The cultural fit of rural Alberta branches which serve two of the province’s hallmark industries, energy, and agriculture, is what excites McGiffin about the potential merger.

“There was just a lot of complimentary things,” he said.

“With Vision and Lakeland, one of the things we pride ourselves in is our rural Alberta approach. And so the cultural fit becomes important and what we hope to be able to do is offer a stronger rural Alberta approach than we have independently by banding together.”

If members give positive feedback and more time is given for consultation, then a recommendation will be made to the LCU board to move ahead, likely in early November.

There is still time to register for Wednesday night’s open house, where residents can ask questions to the brass of each Credit Union board or attend virtually. It begins at 6:00pm.

Member concerns can be forwarded to Kelly McGiffin at 780-812-3601.

“It offers so much benefit to the members and the communities that Lakeland currently serves without taking anything away and I can’t under I can’t imagine a better fit overall.”

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.