We can all agree that 2020 presented its share of challenges. But as Albert Einstein said, “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” When the COVID-19 pandemic overtook our lives last year, we made a conscious decision to emerge from the situation a better and stronger credit union than when we entered it.
In March of 2020, we ordered hand sanitizing stations for each location, enhanced our cleaning procedures, discontinued food sharing such as popcorn and cookie days, and shared with our members the many ways they can do their banking without visiting a financial service center. As the pandemic raged on, we closed our lobbies for 12 weeks. During that time, we equipped our locations with distance markers, clear shields, and other protocols to keep our members and staff safe for the lobby re-openings.
Meanwhile, we prepared for the worst by increasing our allowance for loan loss reserves, reducing our operating expenses, and holding off on filling some staff positions. Our conservative measures paid off: we ended the year with 11.6% capital – well above the “well-capitalized” standard of 7.0%. Our loan losses were less than half of what we had budgeted, and reportable delinquency was just .11% at year-end.
During this state of flux, members were open to changing their normal banking habits and embracing technology. In February, just before COVID hit, mobile deposits and ATM deposits accounted for just 12% of total member deposits. At year-end, they accounted for 43% of total deposits. The overall number of deposits decreased 20% from February to December, as more members moved to direct deposit and ACH deposit. At year-end, 34% of member households did their banking online rather than calling or visiting us.
We did a lot more than COVID response in 2020. We also opened a new financial service center in the heart of the retail district in Warrenton, Oregon, complete with a full-service Red Leaf Organic Coffee shop inside. We refreshed our entire fleet of ATMs, which now accept check and cash deposits with no envelopes needed. And, we introduced new services including My Credit Score, ClickSWITCH, Fibre Card Manager, and Zelle®.
In April, we’re excited to introduce our first Express service center, inside the Woodland Red Leaf café at 1495 Dike Access Rd. Featuring two Interactive Banking Machines and a staff concierge, this Express service center will complement our full-service location in Woodland. Members will be able to withdraw, deposit, transfer funds, and cash checks. Loan applications and new membership applications will be conducted via our online portal.
As we begin to see heartening signs that the pandemic could be under control in the foreseeable future, we all wonder what a “return to normal” will even look like. It’s probably something different than we ever imagined at the beginning of 2020. But this is a certainty: We achieved our goal of finishing the year a stronger and better credit union. Assets grew 23% to $1,416,654,933, loans grew 7.5% to $836,916,279 and shares grew a whopping 25% to $1,235,297,637.
Thank you to our members for their loyalty and understanding, and thank you to our staff for their dedication through trying times. Here’s to brighter years ahead!
Chairman of the Board