A growing problem

Many Canadians trust their finances – and a large portion of their livelihood – to one of five major banks in Canada. They trust the banks, and their employees, to offer solid advice and good products and services to manage their money.

If you’ve read any of the recent CBC reports on the Canadian banking industry, you know that customer trust may be misplaced. CBC News has published a series of reports on a major problem unfolding in Canadian banking: a focus on sales over customers.

Thousands of bank employees have reported to CBC’s Go Public that they are engaging in unethical behaviour to meet sales targets. They may use high-pressure sales tactics, trick customers, or even lie to them to upsell products and meet sales goals.

This raises concerns for average Canadians, and more vulnerable populations, including the elderly. These people may not understand what is being sold to them and how it can affect their finances and their lives. If Canadians don’t want to trust their money with the big banks, who can they trust?

Who can you trust?

For many years, Dave trusted a major bank. When he heard about how many banks were outsourcing jobs, he wasn’t pleased. When he heard that banks were focused on upselling products regardless of customer needs, he was mad.  For months he had dealt with the sales pitches every time he visited a teller. He was tired of the relentless ads on his mobile banking. He decided it was time to look beyond his bank.

When he came in, I offered him a chair and my ear – I would have offered my shoulder, but we had just met. He unloaded all of his concerns. And then asked why he should trust a credit union. Luckily, I didn’t feel pressured. I don’t have to sell credit unions. They are great for many reasons. I offered him a few reasons he could latch onto during this time of uncertainty:

  1. Credit unions are co-operatives.

We are owned by our members, which means the needs of our customers and shareholders are always aligned. Meeting the needs of our members and our communities always comes first.

  1. Credit unions support their members and their employees.

We are not a public company that focuses on sales to drive quarterly profits. Our business model enables us to be profitable, but not at the expense of our employees or customers. We have a team culture that supports our health and that allows us to support the well-being of our members.

  1. Credit unions focus on solutions that improve member lives.

We do not want members to take on unmanageable debt. We regularly work with members to assess their needs, revise their budgets, and find financial solutions to keep them on track to manage their money and meet their goals.

  1. Credit unions focus on solutions that improve communities.

We support small and medium sized businesses and return a portion of our pre-tax income to our local communities. When we work together, we all profit.

  1. Credit unions support members through the good and the bad.

We understand that life can get rocky, and we support our members through these ups and downs. We offer financial counseling and invest in programs to support members and their communities.

Dave looked a bit unsure… like he was holding a winning lottery ticket but couldn’t believe his eyes. “So you find solutions that help me meet my goals, instead of selling me products to meet your sales goals.”

I simply nodded and confirmed, “We answer your questions, help you solve financial issues, plan for your future, and save you money. We also invest in our members and our communities. Credit unions put people ahead of profits.”

Dave opened an account, stood up with pride, and headed out to tell his family and friends to do the same. Not because I sold him on the idea, but because he knew he could trust us to put his needs first.

We want you to develop relationships with us at our credit union. Together, we can help you live better – not debter. Too much? Nope! You can never have too many puns…or too much support when it comes to important issues like your finances.

Our members matter. Join us.


Written by Claire

Claire is a proud PenFinancial spokesperson who hails from the GPA – that’s the Greater Pelham Area, folks. Claire lives the PenFinancial brand from the inside out and you can find her representing our truly local credit union throughout our communities, and especially at the many sponsored events and activities, our credit union supports across Niagara. Claire is an occasional guest blogger here at PenFinancial’s Truly Local Advice Blog