Our Credit Union surpassed $14 billion in assets with a healthy capital ratio of 11.11%, meaning we have the reserves put aside to help weather unforeseen difficulties and remain financially strong. This financial strength is due to your active participation in our products and willingness to share the value of Membership with school employees and their families. As a not-for-profit financial cooperative, our financial strength allows us to offer no- or low-fees and competitive rates for loans and savings. According to a recent report from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), SchoolsFirst FCU provided more than $151 million in direct financial benefits to Members1, resulting in a savings of $417 for every Member household1,2; for those Member households that were active in more products, the benefit grew to $1,584.1,3
Transacting with us should always be convenient and secure — whether by phone, online or at your local branch. One of the most popular ways Members manage their money is through our mobile app for Apple and Android, which MagnifyMoney rated the Best Credit Union App of 2017 among large credit unions. More than 53% of our Members now use the app regularly to view their account balances, deposit checks, pay bills, transfer money and more. If you haven’t tried it yet, we encourage you to download it for free and start using it today. We also improved our branch network, remodeling our Placentia location as well as relocating our Gardena and Torrance branches. In addition, we offer more than 28,000 fee-free ATMs as part of the CO-OP Network — some conveniently located in your neighborhood Rite Aid, Albertsons, or Stater Bros. stores.
We continued to make security improvements to our Mastercard® credit and debit cards, adding chip technology to our debit cards, and introducing enhanced Identity Theft Protection at no cost for credit card holders. Listening to Members share ways we can improve their experiences transacting with us is a priority. At your request, we evaluated how to improve our real estate lending process. We did so to help make the experience simpler, faster and easier. We encourage school employees to take advantage of our School Employee Mortgage Program, offering down payments as low as 5%, a low fixed rate, a discounted loan processing fee, and no Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) to make the dream of homeownership possible.
One of the ways we help you make smart decisions about your money is to provide financial tools and practical educational resources. We offer in-person and online financial workshops covering topics such as buying or selling a home, understanding your budget, identity theft, and retirement planning for school employees.
Our new Advice tab on schoolsfirstfcu.org promotes financial education on our Extra Credit site, including timely articles, blogs and videos about saving and budgeting, debt and credit, buying and maintaining a home or car, estate planning, and establishing college and retirement savings. We introduced Money iQ, a series of short, interactive learning modules designed to improve your money management skills, everything from understanding interest rates, to how credit scores are calculated and what’s covered by your auto insurance. The modules allow you to learn at your own pace and earn certificates each time you complete a course.
Our team of licensed financial advisors are always here to help you understand your options when it comes to building investment or retirement savings4, estate planning, or meeting your insurance needs. We understand that sometimes you may experience financial setbacks; our team can help you develop a steady and stable financial path to save for your future and other important goals.
We’re also committed to helping our youth build a bright financial future by giving them the resources they need to become successful money managers and leaders so that they can make a difference within their own communities. At schools, we held 14 interactive “Bite of Reality” events in which more than
2,000 students participated, a 40% increase over 2016; and 357 financial education presentations with nearly 10,000 students, a 108% increase over 2016.
Actively giving back to our communities is important to our purpose — supporting a wide range of initiatives, including annual classroom supply drives, giving to local and broad-ranged charitable causes, and programs that support education advancement. Our Members and teammembers gave their time and personal resources to help improve the lives of others.
Our Credit Union is something we can all be proud of. Thank you for helping make 2017 our best year yet. We’re excited about the year ahead; we’ll continue to listen to your feedback and create products and services that can help you build lasting security.
Chairman of the Board