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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – When Dave Mowat, president/CEO of Canada’s largest credit union, Vancouver City Savings Credit Union – also referred to as VanCity- takes the podium at the NAFCU Annual Conference on July 15, he plans to not only welcome attendees to his city, but emphasize what he feels credit unions need to do to differentiate themselves from banks and remain competitive. Mowat has been president/CEO of the $9 billion (Canadian) in asset, 305,000 member credit union for six years. Prior to taking over the corner office at the CU, he worked for two years at VanCity’s venture capital subsidiary, VanCity Capital Corp. With that many years of credit union experience under his belt, Mowat has had ample time to watch the credit union environment evolve. “As credit unions we need to think about not just ways to merge and ways to get scale and make parts of our business big. We also need to critically keep our eye on what value our members pride us in and what services we provide to members. If a bunch of credit unions merge and have to change the way they do business and ultimately look and feel a lot like a bank, they’re going to be lost because banks can beat credit unions out anytime on scale,” says Mowat. He adds that: “As credit unions we sometimes forget why people deal with us, and we go on a myopic path that we have to be bigger to be better. Here in Canada, the Royal Bank will always be bigger than all of the credit unions in Canada put together. The same is true for Bank of America in the U.S. There will never be a solution. I believe we need consolidation, but we have to find ways of owning and managing credit unions to be independent at member service and marketing. That’s how we can differentiate ourselves. Our members couldn’t care less what information technology we use or who builds our buildings. They care about having a friendly, well-trained person who can provide services at great rates. Mowat said VanCity defines three practices that differentiates credit unions from banks: service experience, employee experience (“the more time we spend training, empowering, and motivating an employees, the member will feel it right away”); and community leadership. “Every opportunity we get we underscore the message that we understand and we’re involved with and support the community. In various shapes and forms, this is a customized service offering that channels profits back to the community. “We all are very eager to run our credit unions as well as we can. As business people and CEOs we sometimes get caught up running a financial institution. But we can’t take our eye off of why people come to us – they’re interested in getting personalized service and being part of a differentiated model, and that’s what credit unions need to focus on,” says Mowat. -

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