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President & Chief Executive Officer’s Report 2023

May 3rd, 2024

Since the pandemic, members have recognized and valued their trusted credit unions even more. As the financial landscape continues to shift in a post-COVID world, Century Credit Union works diligently to provide the best value and experience for our members. While we’ve seen many improvements to the economy, challenges remain and have caused the financial industry to develop more innovative and efficient processes.

For example, we’ve worked to:

  • Expand account options and offer new checking products.
  • Offer more accessibility to those who wish to become a member.
  • Make contactless cards available to your physical and digital wallets.
  • Promote financial literacy resources and tools. 
  • Keep robust security measures in place.
  • Support advocacy efforts on behalf of the credit union community.
  • Continue our priority of outreach and involvement in our local communities.

Let’s expand on these a bit.

Basic Checking Accounts

In our ongoing commitment to financial inclusion, we introduced a special checking account for members who may have faced challenges managing their finances. This program offers a secure and reliable banking relationship at Century, regardless of credit history. It provides essential tools like check writing and debit card access, empowering our members to take control of their finances and build a strong foundation for their future.

Accessibility to New Members

We understand that many individuals simply seek a financial institution that offers a helping hand. We’ve listened to this need and made membership at Century Credit Union more accessible than ever before to those within our field of membership. Anyone who lives or works in St. Louis County or City, Jefferson County, or Franklin County – or who has a family member who does – is able to open account with us. This commitment to inclusivity has already had a positive impact. In 2023 alone, many individuals found a new financial home at Century Credit Union, gaining access to the support and resources they need to achieve their financial goals. We believe this reflects the core credit union principle of “people helping people,” and we’re excited to continue expanding our reach and promoting strong financial well-being within our community.

Contactless Debit Cards and Credit Cards

Acceptance of payments via chip and contactless cards has become the norm. These enhancements help to safeguard your information and protect you from fraudulent purchases. Century started offering contactless cards in 2023, with the focus on security and convenience. When you use your contactless card at a participating merchant, payments are enabled via secure contactless systems using a unique code that is not linked to your credit union account information. The contactless reader at the checkout does all the work – no swiping, PINs, or signatures needed most of the time. This streamlines your shopping experience and works twice as fast as a normal card.

Financial Literacy Resources and Tools

We’re committed to helping our members make informed financial decisions. To achieve this, we’ve expanded our in-branch financial literacy resources. The response has been fantastic, with members actively seeking information on car buying, scam avoidance, credit score improvement, college planning, and everyday money management.  The popularity is clear – our resources are constantly being restocked! These educational tools are designed to be a valuable asset, and we’re thrilled to see them making a positive difference for our members.

Safeguarding Your Finances

In today’s digital world, threats like phishing scams, data theft, and identity fraud are unfortunately on the rise. At Century, your security is a top concern. That’s why we have robust measures in place to safeguard your information. But security is a two-way street. We’re also dedicated to educating our members on how to protect themselves. This includes best practices like keeping passwords secure and never sharing personal information with unknown sources. By working together, we can ensure your financial well-being remains secure.

Advocacy and Lobbying Efforts

We also take an active role in advocating for legislation that protects consumers’ financial peace of mind. In 2023, thanks in part to the efforts of the Cornerstone Credit Union League, we successfully opposed the Credit Card Competition Act. This legislation would have mandated routing credit card transactions through untested, alternate networks, potentially increasing the risk of data breaches for consumers. We remain vigilant in protecting your financial security and will continue to advocate for sound policies that prioritize your safety.

Community Outreach

As your local, hometown credit union, we believe in supporting the communities we serve. Throughout the year, we partner with a variety of local organizations, such as:

  • KidSmart: providing free essential tools for learning to local children in need, ensuring their success in school.
  • Walk to End Alzheimer’s: raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research.
  • Warner’s Warm Up: collecting coats for distribution to schools, shelters, and social service centers in our community.
  • Toys for Tots: Donations during the holiday season, providing toys, books, and gifts to less fortunate children.
  • Contributions to worthy causes including the local YMCA, Friends with Cancer, The Buddy Fund of St. Louis, and 10 years of support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Missouri-Specific Issues

In addition to nationwide trends in the financial landscape and economy, we have grappled here in Missouri with issues such as:

  • Uncertainty about the economy.
  • Health care access and costs.
  • Rising food, gas, shelter, and energy prices.
  • Climbing mortgage interest rates.

Even with rising inflation, interest rates, and prices, it’s encouraging to see that jobs have climbed back to pre-COVID levels in most sectors in our state. Century diligently monitors these trends and how they may affect our members. We’re dedicated to continuing to listen to your suggestions and feedback and exploring the best ways to serve you.

The overall picture for credit unions in Missouri is encouraging. According to the Credit Union National Association’s 3Q 2023 report:

  • Missouri has 100 credit unions headquartered in the state, with a membership of more than 1.5 million – a growing but still small portion of the state’s financial sector.
  • Total assets of Missouri credit unions are more than $19.7 billion.
  • Missouri credit unions have 338 branches and 4,203 employees, for which they pay $428 million in compensation.
  • Missouri credit unions made more than 1 million loans totaling over $6 billion.

Since credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives and, unlike banks, have no shareholders demanding a market return on their investment, we can pass profits on to our member depositors in the form of lower loan interest rates, higher yields on savings, and fewer/lower fees. And of course, none of this would be possible without the participation and input of members like you!

Closing Remarks

At Century Credit Union, we hold steadfast to our core values of trust, community, excellence, and empathy. These values guide us as we navigate the challenges presented by our current economy, political landscape, infrastructure, and environment. By embracing new technologies and adopting a modern and flexible approach to our business, we strive to better serve not only our valued members but also our broader community. Your input and involvement have been invaluable on this journey, and we are grateful for your ongoing support.

We extend our gratitude to our dedicated Board of Directors. Their leadership and commitment are invaluable assets to Century. They generously volunteer their time and expertise, serving on an unpaid basis to ensure the long-term success and stability of our institution. They play a critical role in guiding our direction and ensuring the best interests of our members.

We are incredibly fortunate to have a team of passionate employees at Century Their hard work and expertise ensure that we deliver exceptional service each and every day. We are grateful for their willingness to go the extra mile and their commitment to serving our members.

As our member-owners, you are the core of what makes Century Credit Union special. Your continued trust and support are what drive us to constantly improve and innovate. We are truly grateful that you’ve chosen us as your financial partner. We wish you and your families a healthy and prosperous 2024.

Joshua Wallace, President and CEO