In 2018, Connect First was able to achieve above budgeted income for the year due in part to diligent expense management and asset growth. Provincially, the economy experienced a modest recovery during fiscal 2018 which, combined with the strong growth experienced elsewhere in Canada, gave way to the Bank of Canada increasing the benchmark interest rate three times. The impact from the increase in interest rates was twofold, as higher rates on the variable rate loans were partially offset by increased deposit expenses.
In August of 2018, Connect First and Mountain View Credit Union Ltd. amalgamated following Board approval and overwhelming member support. Mountain View Credit Union Ltd. has been renamed Mountain View Financial and represents the fourth division operating under the Connect First model. Lastly, subsequent to fiscal year end and effective December 3, 2018, Connect First moved its head office to a brand new building. The move has allowed the Credit Union to consolidate back end functions into one location, thereby enhancing communication, collaboration and innovation.
2017 was an exceptional year for Connect First Credit Union that delivered solid financial performance and asset growth. We expanded into a new market, Medicine Hat, through our Chinook Financial division; we amalgamated with Legacy Savings & Credit Union Ltd. following board approvals and overwhelming member support, resulting in third Connect First division: Legacy Financial; and, our fiscal success translated into a 4.75% common share dividend and a 5.0% investment dividend for our valued 100,000 plus members.
In 2016, we brought our mission to life, while delivering strong financial results. It was a year of firsts - we were the first financial institution in Alberta to introduce a responsible alternative to payday lending, the first to launch a gift program encouraging people to give in ways with positive long-term effects on savings and financial literacy skills, and we introduced a new community grant program to help invest more meaningfully in our communities - Act Local.
A year of vision, momentum, and action. With record results, we positively impacted the communities we operate in while amalgamating the operations of two legacy credit unions to form Connect First Credit Union.
Embarking on a new journey. See the story of how two credit unions, with deep Alberta roots, became better for our members.