This December will mark our 72nd birthday at FORUM Credit Union. In early December 1941, employees from Indiana Bell Telephone Company “united for good” and founded Hoosier Federal Credit Union, now known as FORUM. These Indiana Bell volunteers formed the credit union as a not-for-profit financial cooperative and this structure remains today, driving our business strategy in serving you – our member/owners. On the third Thursday of every October since 1948, International Credit Union Day is recognized across the world (http://www.woccu.org/events/icuday).
This year's theme was "Unite for Good" and this same theme is used by our trade association, Credit Union National Association (CUNA – www.cuna.org). With this theme in mind, I thought I would share three primary ways FORUM Credit Union embodies these words:
• You - Our decisions surrounding product offerings and service delivery are centered around the cooperative model (http://www.cuna.org/Stay-Informed/CUNA-Initiatives/Seven-Cooperative-Principles-for-Credit-Unions/). We strive for lower loan rates, higher dividend rates, and fewer fees. Just this year we have lowered some fees, eliminated others, and have seen a decline in overall fees paid by members in 2013 compared to previous years. The FORUM team is proud of this decrease, and I ask you, "Would a bank be proud of this?" Probably not, as it would likely impact their share price back to their owners – their shareholders. Currently, the greatest challenge is delivering "higher dividend rates to our members. With historically low interest rates, it is difficult for us to offer much better than market on savings rate. Instead, we offer our members cash and interest rewards with our YOUR Checking product.
Regarding service, we have an outstanding team of dedicated professionals here at FORUM. This team celebrates excellent service to our members and has implemented the idea of "Service Revolution Days" at our branch offices. With the convenience of electronic delivery we offer, many of you may rarely step inside our branch offices, yet service through the branch offices is a vital part of what we do. If you haven't experienced a "Service Revolution Day" at your favorite branch, I encourage you to check one out. Teammates from across the entire credit union volunteer to work at these events where we celebrate service with free food, fun events, and cooperation with our business partners in showcasing what they do in the local community.
• Indiana – We take pride in serving Indiana. We have been fortunate the last few years in that we have seen our membership grow and, as a result, we have added new jobs to the Indiana economy. In 2013, we have also seen growth in our member business lending activities and have helped a number of Indiana businesses expand their operations, and we are thrilled to assist our business members with adding new jobs to the Indiana economy. Our consumer lending teams work with Indiana auto dealerships, real estate agents, and home builders across the state and FORUM financing helps members finance their dream automobiles and homes.
• Charity – We probably don't share this story with you often enough. The employees at FORUM are a charitable group, with their time, talent, and treasures. They have united to form a group called FORUM Spirit. Each year FORUM Spirit accepts employee nominations for local charitable organizations. Employees then vote, and one charitable organization is selected for FORUM to sponsor for the following year. Our employees embrace this charity with all kinds of assistance to make a significant impact. Through this employee only effort, thousands of work hours and dollars have been donated to these charities. This is all internally driven and designed to make a difference and fuel a family atmosphere among FORUM teammates. To compliment FORUM Spirit, the credit union just recently founded the FORUM Foundation, which will focus on granting college scholarships and teaching grants to our members. We are excited about this new initiative focused on the membership and the "pay it forward" good it can bring to FORUM members. Stay tuned for more details in early 2014.
These are just three of many examples I could use that represent our efforts to pay respect to "Unite for Good" and to our heritage. We recognize that you have numerous choices in picking who will serve your financial needs, and we appreciate you selecting us and for being a member at FORUM. Your business at FORUM contributes to the cooperative effort, which then fuels what we can do for our members, the state of Indiana, and for our charitable endeavors.