UCU weathers COVID-19 to keep its top status among Ukrainian Canadian credit unions

Yaroslaw Borys (stands), Chair of the Board and Taras Pidzamecky, Chief Executive Officer during UCU's AGM on April 23

Yuri Bilinsky, New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

On April 23, Ukrainian Credit Union Limited held its second in a row virtual Annual General Meeting. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has prevented UCU’s members from meeting and discussing the credit union’s developments in person, has brought the best in UCU’s staff and management. The meeting started with a special thank you to the UCU employees, who have kept the branches open during the health crisis. In some cases, UCU led the industry in applying the best anti-pandemic practices, like physical barriers and increased cleaning and disinfection protocols in branches. Many UCU employees have had to take on new responsibilities to serve members remotely through the expanded call centre.
The efforts and resilience of UCU staff and management have produced solid results. Despite the pandemic, 2020 was a year of healthy growth of financial indicators and continuous community-building work for UCU.

UCU broke a number of its own financial records in 2020. Its assets increased by 7% to over $990 million; deposits grew by 7.5% to almost $806 million, while loans to members increased by 5% to nearly $863 million. In 2020, UCU remained the largest Ukrainian Canadian credit union by assets and number of branches.

The credit union’s net income for 2020 amounted to $1.8 million. Despite the tumultuous times, UCU’s indicators for credit risk and delinquent loans remained well below that of the credit union sector overall.

In 2020, UCU executed on its plans to heavily invest in digital transformation. Over the year, the credit union introduced such new service offerings and improvements as online banking transfer of funds between Canadian dollar and US dollar accounts; CRA Deposit for special government COVID-19 related payments; option to apply for Federal COVID-19 relief programs online; mobile app to increase accuracy and speed of Deposit Anywhere; and online onboarding for new members.

Throughout its history, UCU has been supporting cultural, educational, religious and volunteer organizations in the Ukrainian Canadian and wider communities. One of the credit union’s core values, Building Community, did not take a break during the pandemic when assistance was needed more than ever. Despite the uncertainty and tighter economic conditions brought on by COVID-19, UCU maintained the lion’s share of its previous years’ community support in place. In 2020, UCU increased its support for charitable programs that provide help to those in need throughout the neighbourhoods it serves, while continuing to maintain its unwavering support for Ukraine. UCU’s report to its members for the year of 2020 lists dozens of worthwhile causes and organizations that Ukrainian Credit Union Limited supported last year.

During the AGM, the Board and management thanked UCU members for their loyalty and confidence in their financial co-operative during the pandemic. UCU has stood by its members in these difficult times, and the members have stood by UCU. This is the best indicator of the strength and resilience through co-operation.

As a result of the election that took place at this year’s meeting, a new director Olena Kroupa of Etobicoke, ON joined the UCU board for a three-year term. Board Secretary Jerry Pryshlak retired after many years of distinguished service as UCU director, and as a director of Ukrainian (St. Catharines) Credit Union before its merger with UCU.

With files from UCU