Credit Unions seen as low cost, responsive alternative to big banks in
era of frugality and discontent
HAMILTON, ON, Jan. 11, 2012 /CNW/ - More than 10 million Canadians,
roughly one-third of the country's population, are members of an
affiliated credit union or caisse populaire, drawn by "a better deal"
including lower banking fees, lower loan interest rates, higher savings
rates, and the ability to have a voice in how their financial
institution is run. In an era of frugality, discontent and consumer
empowerment, the question is why aren't even more Canadians making the
A new, national survey conducted by FirstOntario Credit Union, one of
Canada's leading member-owned financial cooperatives, reveals that the
average Canadian has been with the same bank for more than 15 years,
yet more than 40 per cent of those surveyed are unhappy with the high
service fees their bank charges them.
"There are serious misconceptions among Canadians about what's involved
in leaving your bank for another institution, and for many people even
the thought of switching is daunting," said Dave Schurman, Executive
Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, FirstOntario Credit Union.
"The reality is that if you are unhappy with your bank, switching is
simple and straightforward."
According to Schurman, some of these misconceptions include:
Switching banks can have a negative impact on your credit rating
It's complicated changing to another bank
The bigger the bank, the better the benefits
Only chartered banks in Canada are regulated
Only big banks offer online banking
The FirstOntario survey, which was conducted in November 2011, polled
more than 2,500 Canadians on their banking practices, preferences,
satisfaction levels, and asked whether they would be willing to leave
their bank. Of those surveyed, 42 per cent indicated they are either
'unsatisfied completely' or only 'somewhat satisfied' with their
current financial institution. Nearly 10 per cent said they are
reluctant to switch because it is the only bank they have ever had, or
they feel that switching would be too much trouble.
This month, FirstOntario Credit Union is launching a public awareness
campaign to educate consumers about the benefits of a community-based
credit union over Canada's big banks. The campaign's website (www.MyOwnBank.ca) offers candid testimonials from consumers, links to products and
services, as well as a step-by-step guide to empower consumers to make
"January is a time to set new goals, start fresh, and think about ways
to improve our lives, so we are urging consumers to change things for
the better when it comes to where they put their money in 2012," said
Schurman. "If folks want to make a resolution they can keep this year,
they should make it leaving their bank for benefits like free chequing,
higher deposit rates and better mortgage rates."
Canada has the world's highest per capita membership in the credit union
movement, with more than 10 million Canadians and small business owners
- roughly one-third of the Canadian population - presently being served
by the credit union/caisse populaire system. Credit unions provide the
same products and services expected from a financial institution but
with a personal, friendly touch and a commitment to invest back in the
communities in which they operate. Credit unions differ from banks and
other financial institutions in that the members who have accounts in
the credit union are owners of the credit union and thus have a voice.
About FirstOntario Credit Union
In business since 1939, FirstOntario Credit Union has more than $2.9
billion in funds under management, serves over 85,000 Members and
offers a full suite of banking products including daily banking,
mortgages, lines of credit, loans and investments. FirstOntario
operates 21 full-service branches and two satellite branches serving 13
communities across the Hamilton, Halton, Niagara, Haldimand/Norfolk and
Oxford regions and Membership at FirstOntario is open to anyone.
FirstOntario is a proud advocate of the communities we serve and
supports many important community organizations. FirstOntario is a
founding sponsor for Hive Hamilton, and supports Co-operative Young
Leaders (CYL) and youth at risk through Soupfest. FirstOntario also
offers a scholastic bursary program and a microlending program in the
Hamilton and Niagara regions.
Please visit: www.FirstOntarioCU.com and www.MyOwnBank.ca.
SOURCE FirstOntario Credit Union
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