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Focus on Leadership Focus on members at the core of connectFirst Credit Union

Wellington Holbrook is chief operating officer of connectFirst Credit Union. Photo by Wil Andruschak © Postmedia Network Inc.

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

connectFirst Credit Union might just be the largest credit union you have never heard of. In fact, it is the largest full-service financial institution headquartered in Calgary.

For the past year, the team at connectFirst has been implementing new technology and investing in a completely new banking experience. On May 3, they are launching a new brand — connectFirst — from four founding organizations you might be familiar with — First Calgary Financial, Chinook Financial, Legacy Financial and Mountain View Financial.

As connectFirst chief operating officer Wellington Holbrook notes, they are launching a new brand but are sincere in not launching just another bank or credit union

“Unfortunately, with respect to financial services, the bar has been pretty low for a long time, and at connectFirst, we aim to change that — we are raising the bar in what people should expect from their financial institution,” says Holbrook, a financial industry veteran.

The shift is about more than a name change. While credit unions — essentially financial co-operatives — have long been renowned for offering superior customer service to their members, they’re also sometimes perceived as “being uncompetitive in terms of technology or just plain misunderstood,” he says.

But connectFirst is a credit union designed for the 2020s, with an entirely new technology infrastructure to offer Albertans ever-improving mobile services from day-to-day account management to investing and borrowing. Just like you would expect from a leading digital organization.

Holbrook adds that connectFirst never forgets the roots that have made credit unions successful — its customers, which they call members.

“The whole basis of the credit union model turns the banking model upside down,” he says. “You’re not just a customer; you’re actually an owner in the business.”

That translates into serving members in the way they are most comfortable.

“A lot of other financial institutions are closing branches and reducing that human connection so important for many, particularly during the pandemic,” Holbrook says. “But our approach has been to say ‘no’ to closure — our members should not have to compromise on having access to connected and understanding people who are there for you when you need them.” 

At the same time, connectFirst will offer the best technology in an increasingly connected world.

“But we complement that innovation with our people — always credit unions’ strength,” Holbrook says. “That’s our vision for the next decade.”

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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