$13.5 million has been paid out to members through Access Credit Union's Member Rewards program this year. 
Board Chair, Curt Letkeman, offered the update at this week's annual general meeting. Access Credit Union includes branches in Grunthal, Vita and Dominion City.

"The patronage allocation of approximately 1.12% of interest paid by the members on loan services and paid to the members on non-registered accounts during 2023. Members who held surplus shares and common or preferred shares, excluding member shares, earned a dividend paid out in the form of surplus shares. This dividend was paid on March 27th, 2024, at the following rates. Dividends on supplies on surplus shares - 2.25%. Dividends on common and preferred shares, excluding member shares, of 5.45%."

Meantime, President and CEO Larry Davey reported that both deposits and loan portfolios at Access Credit Union enjoyed substantial growth in 2023. 

"In addition to the growth as a result of our mergers with Amaranth, Casera and Carpathia, our loan portfolio had a strong year, despite the rapidly increasing rate environment. Our credit union loans grew by almost 16% in 2023. 9.5% as a result of the mergers and 6.5% was a result of organic growth," outlined Davey. "Our deposits, buoyed by the same rate increases on the lending side, grew by almost 14%. 10.75% as a result of the mergers and almost 3% as a result of organic growth."

Davey also reported that Access saw significant jump in its profitability in 2023. 
Overall, nearly 1,000 staff serviced over 200,000 members across Manitoba in 2023, which was another year of change and growth for the credit union, noted Letkeman.

"In 2022, Access joined forces with Sunova and Noventis credit unions, and in 2023, we were excited to welcome Casera, Carpathia and Amaranth credit unions. What has stood out most for me during these transitions is the care, teamwork and positive energy that people have brought. It has truly been an example of the whole being stronger than the individual parts," said Letkeman. 

And while the Board and executive team at Access have been hard at work over the last three years on executing and capitalizing on mergers with other credit unions, Davey noted the benefits continue to be seen in the economies of scale. 

"Competitive pricing and community investments that we bring, while we continue to focus on bringing many different organizations together under the Access banner, it's been our privilege to serve every member to the best of our ability every day. We continue to grow and change and we remain grateful for your business."

However, the year wasn't without its own set of challenges.

"Like the banking system conversions required to bring all legacy credit unions together into one system," noted Letkeman. "There have also been some challenges with outages from national companies who provide services to all credit unions which have impacted not just Access members, but people from across the country. We've also seen costs increase for new banking programs and government regulations designed to provide greater security, speed of transactions and protect members' money. These are expensive programs, and we're working together with other large credit unions from across Canada to provide the best solutions possible to our members, as all financial institutions are facing similar challenges."

Finally, Letkeman stressed that members can be proud of the credit union they are a part of. 

"Access continues to provide some of the best savings and loan rates in Canada and has been recognized as one of the most community supportive credit unions in the country."

In 2023, staff contributed over 14,000 hours of volunteer time to various community groups, and Access donated almost $1.8 million to local, non-profits and charities across Manitoba.