On behalf of the America First staff and volunteer team, I am honored to deliver an accounting of your credit union’s achievements in 2019. We greatly appreciate the support, loyalty, and trust of our membership. As an organization, we endeavor daily to ensure relevant and affordable financial services are provided in a convenient, professional, and personal manner.
We celebrated our 80th anniversary on March 16, 2019 and closed the year as the nation’s 9th most substantial credit union in terms of assets; America First ranked 5th in number of members. I often wonder what the 59 founders would think of our progression and success. Although much has changed since 1939, one constant, core purpose remains: improving the members’ financial well-being.
By every measurement, it was an outstanding 12 months. More importantly, our commitment to America First’s long-term health and vitality is strongly evident. With this in mind, we continue focusing on three pillars forming the nucleus of our strategy, budget, and operation: 1. Lifetime member relationships, 2. Financial strength & integrity, and 3. Strategic, balanced growth.
Our mission is to serve the membership’s needs, help simplify lives, and enhance financial wellness. Indicators suggest we’re doing a good job—our loyalty, retention, product utilization, and net promoter benchmarks are among the best in the U.S. This positive differentiation of products, designed according to each life stage, is essential to develop and maintain productive, long-term relationships. Among our priorities are:
- Free financial seminars & training opportunities
- Free financial counseling services
- Financial literacy instruction at local schools
- Free credit scores and programs to assist members who are rebuilding
- Interactive web-based learning tools
- Social media tips, updates, and financial education
Award-Winning 24/7 Digital and Electronic Services
- Comprehensive online banking and web portal
- Go-anywhere mobile banking, including deposits & bill pay
- Apple, Android, Samsung Pay
- No-fee ATM access
- Zelle® person-to-person transfers
Transactions, Deposits & Your Security
- Free identity theft recovery and monitoring services for credit cardholders
- Free Card Guard® mobile app
- Free direct deposits
- Youth and student savings
- Share, money market, individual retirement and health savings accounts
- Low-rate Visa® options, including rewards & cash back
- Business and commercial deposit, transaction accounts
- Merchant account services
- #1 auto lender in our region
- RV loans
- Auto/RV research and valuation tools
- Convenient on-site dealer financing
- Mortgage, real estate, home equity & construction loans
- Lines of credit and overdraft protection
- Business, commercial, and SBA loans
- Personal and consolidation loans
Complete Financial Needs
- Trust services
- And more
Financial Strength & Integrity
Each year, we hear of businesses that are disrupted, fail, quit, are acquired, or otherwise disappear. Often, this is caused by inadequate fiscal reserves, loss of discipline, and/or lack of integrity. I am pleased to report that America First is safe, sound, and independently rated among the best and strongest financial institutions in the country; our commitment to ethical standards and integrity is unyielding.
Accordingly, our net worth equaled $1.279 billion at year’s end, up 11.82% from 2018 and closing at 10.92%. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), our federal regulator, considers 7% well-capitalized. Our strong net-worth position engenders health during the ups and downs of economic cycles. America First additionally achieved positive/unqualified exam results from our regulator and an independent external auditor.
Credit union assets increased 13.47% to $11.713 billion. Yearly net income exceeded $135 million, producing a healthy 1.21% return on assets. America First’s loan portfolio grew by 11.09% to $9.358 billion, while deposits were 13.76% higher to finish at $10.343 billion. The 90.48% loan/deposit ratio demonstrates prudent use of funds while allowing for adequate liquidity. The overall loan portfolio mix is diversified, has minimal interest rate risk, and reflects appropriate credit risk levels. Allowance for loan loss reserves are more than adequate to absorb any portfolio deficiencies.
Our top priority is protecting members’ personal data, information, resources, and accounts. Internal and external resources review, upgrade, and monitor IT systems. America First does not sell member information.
Strategic and Balanced Growth
Growth is an essential element of sustainability. Entering new markets, welcoming new members, developing new services, and broadening existing relationships is important to diversifying. Growth for its sake alone is problematic, but balanced advancement is vital.
America First’s field of membership is well-diversified geographically and socioeconomically; we expect stable growth prospects going forward. For the year, membership rose by 8.79% to nearly 1.1 million. We are the region’s #1 credit union but, more significantly, we’ve developed deep and positive primary account relationships.
New branches opened in West Valley, Utah; Rexburg, Idaho; and Las Vegas, Nevada, with more planned for 2020. After careful consideration, two locations were closed. In addition, a merger with a small Provo, Utah-based credit union was completed. As 2019 ended, we had 131 branches with locations in Utah, Nevada, Arizona & Idaho.
To protect our relevance in an evolving marketplace, we’re active in legislative and community affairs on local, state, and national levels. We believe it’s imperative to be an outstanding corporate citizen, encourage financial wellness, and lend support to organizations working for the greater good. To that end, the America First Charitable Foundation provides resources, service, and expertise to food drives, Warm the Soles of Kids programs, the 100% For Kids Credit Union Education Foundation, Souper Bowl of Caring, and many other deserving causes. Our employees and volunteers donate countless hours of personal time and effort to service outreach.
Once again, I express my utmost appreciation to all the dedicated individuals who are devoted to continual improvement. I am grateful for the members who support and promote our credit union. America First is well-positioned for a bright future.
John B. Lund, President and CEO