By remaining true to its mission of making a meaningful difference in the financial well-being of its members, Prospera Credit Union has evolved into a highly successful model of ethics-driven financial services.
Based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Prospera was formed like many credit unions: to benefit a specific population. Prospera’s creation in 2001 followed from the merger of Edelweiss, a credit union serving local German immigrants, and another credit union that served residents of British Columbia’s Fraser Valley. Many of these unions originated in the 1940s, when ordinary consumers pooled their financial resources in reaction to bank policies that tightened consumer credit.
Prospera’s beginnings set the standard for growth and service. “By bringing together two credit unions, we expanded our ability to serve members and the larger community,” explains Trudi Kloepper, Prospera’s senior vice president of personal financial services.
Today, Prospera is a one-stop financial institution for the Fraser Valley and the Okanagan regions. “We offer everything from investment, commercial, retail, and other business services, to wealth management, life insurance, and mortgage loans,” Kloepper says.
This full-service approach has enabled Prospera to earn the allegiance of 63,000 members, who are served through the credit union’s 16 branches, contact centre, and six commercial banking centres.
However, unlike businesses that maintain bigger is better, Prospera has ensured its own evolution is sustainable and beneficial. At the heart of its winning philosophy is a commitment to promoting the well-being of members and the larger community. “This is where we have increased our time and effort as a community-based financial institution,” says Sundeep Sandhu, Prospera’s senior vice president of marketing.
This is perhaps best exemplified by Prospera’s perspective that every member, no matter their age or income level, should have a solid financial road map. Through this initiative, expert advice is provided to help members plan and achieve their own fiscal objectives. What’s more, this service is available to all members, regardless of their net worth. “You don’t have to be rich to gain access to this service,” Kloepper says. “It is accessible to everyone.”
Indeed, members in economic distress have benefited significantly from these financial road maps. “We had a single mother who was struggling financially but needed to buy a car, to ensure that she could meet both work and family obligations,” says Erin Nesci, Prospera’s manager of community and public relations. “A financial counselor sat down with her and created a plan that enabled her to purchase a car, and also brought her to a point where she became financially stable.”
This tradition of caring extends to the larger community as well. Last year, Prospera employees donated 2,500 hours of volunteer service. Meanwhile, the credit union invested $550,000 into the communities it operates in, through charitable donations, community events, and sponsorships. Both the British Columbia Children’s Hospital and United Way of the Fraser Valley were among those nonprofits benefiting from this generosity.
“Our own well-being depends upon the well-being of the communities where we do business and where many of our employees live,” Nesci says. “It’s important for us to contribute in a variety of ways to the strength and health of the areas we serve.”
At the core of this commitment is the personal trust earned by Prospera staff among its members, area residents, and businesses. “That face-to-face contact is essential; we truly value that relationship,” says Dan Whalley, Prospera’s vice president of branch operations. “We’re proud of our technical expertise that enables members to easily address their financial needs online. But when it comes to making big decisions, people still want to talk with an expert. For this reason, our staff is ready to listen and speak with members whenever they need us.”
Looking ahead, Prospera continues to strengthen its balance between member services, technology, and community outreach. “We want to be known in our markets as the financial institution that provides expert financial advice while helping members do what they want, where they want, when they want, and for making a meaningful difference in our communities,” Sandhu says.