President’s Message

A Truly Special Month for our Household

John Lund, President, America First Credit Union

By John B. Lund, President and Chief Executive Officer

For a number of reasons, November is always a cherished time for me and my family. Not only was my dear wife born during the month, the occurrence happened to take place on Thanksgiving Day. I have heard the story many times: my mother-in-law was sitting down to her holiday dinner when her first daughter decided it was time to come into the world and join the celebration. My future in-laws missed their meal that year, but received something far more precious and lasting. Their daughter and my wife is truly a jewel, not to mention the best grandma in the world.

Besides my wife’s birthday, November holds a special place on the calendar with two distinctive holidays: Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving.

Veterans’ Day is November 11, honoring those who have served in the U.S. armed forces, protecting & preserving our freedom and our way of life. It was originally called Armistice Day to mark the anniversary of World War I ending; the major hostilities of this horrific conflict were formally halted on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. The observance was changed to Veterans’ Day in 1954. Today, there are approximately 23.2 million U.S. veterans.

Thanksgiving provides us with the opportunity to offer appreciation for the blessings of the harvest and the preceding year. It has historical roots in religious, cultural, and secular traditions. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn feast that is acknowledged as one of the first Thanksgivings. It wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving holiday to be held each November.

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The Power of Respect

John Lund, President, America First Credit Union

By John B. Lund, President and Chief Executive Officer

During each fall season, we begin our budget and strategic planning process for the coming year. As part of this important project, we send a questionnaire to our entire management team.

This document provides us with insight from the collective eyes and ears of this talented and dedicated group of professionals striving to meet your needs. A number of questions are asked regarding our products, services, strategies, mission, and other key areas of focus.

Our questionnaire is administered through an anonymous system to help ensure every participant is able to respond in a completely open manner. This year, at my request, an additional question was posed to our managers: “What do you respect most about America First Credit Union?”

I specifically used the word respect rather than another term. I feel respect is something deeper, something earned over time, something more meaningful. The feedback we received was extraordinary, and I was impressed to share some of their feelings with you:

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Free Services Add Value to and help Simplify your Busy Life

By John B. Lund, President and Chief Executive Officer

John Lund, President, America First Credit UnionHave you left your credit or debit card at a restaurant by accident and been panicked as you call or rush back, hoping it’s still there and has not been fraudulently used? Or you’ve waded through the inconvenience of having your card reissued because your information has been compromised at a local or national merchant?

Most of us can relate these situations and the experience can be very frustrating. To help put your mind at ease about using your America First Visa® Debit and Credit Cards, we are proud to offer unique — and free — tools.

Card Guard™ is a Mobile Banking innovation that puts you in complete control of how, when, and where your cards are used. Download the application on your smartphone and you’ll be able to turn your cards on or off in real time. Additionally, you can allow card use only in certain geographic locations, at merchants and service providers you determine, and you can set threshold dollar amounts for transactions.

Beyond controlling how your cards are used, you can also receive immediate alerts regarding transactions and attempted transactions. Card Guard’s monitoring feature allows you to verify that all of your account activity is legitimate.

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Guest Commentary: The Secret to Financial Performance

By Rex Rollo, Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer

Rex RolloA typical company’s mid-year financial performance report would include numerous fiscal measurements, such as net income, asset growth, cash flows, and net worth. In addition, comparisons between actual performance, budgeted goals, and projections would likely be drawn.

Rest assured, America First Credit Union has either met or exceeded our targets in all of these indicators during the first half of 2015. Assets will exceed $7 billion before the year ends, our income is on budget, and our net worth ratio is at its highest level in seven years. These favorable numbers demonstrate yet another 12 months of strong financial performance and have resulted in America First being ranked among the strongest of its peers.

Key to these excellent results and the real secret to our success is the relationship we build with each of our members. Because of our dedication to this core ideal, not only has the credit union seen consistent membership growth year after year, there has also been an expansion in the number of products and services being utilized.

This compounded membership growth only occurs when the credit union is able to offer a complete range of quality products and services. It is then enhanced by delivering them through a wide selection of convenient, world-class channels. Our goal is not only to provide our members with the finest financial services, but to make them available whenever, wherever, and however members choose to transact their business.

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Love for a Man Never Met — the Legacy of Little Jimmy Fisher

John Lund, President, America First Credit Union

By John B. Lund, President & Chief Executive Officer

I recently heard a heartwarming true story about the experience of Eugene Gibbs on Iwo Jima Island during World War II. It was carefully and passionately told by Eugene’s dear wife, Wanda, and his granddaughter, Kristin, both members of America First Credit Union. I am grateful their family was willing to share something this special.

Eugene Jens Gibbs was a good man and one of the Greatest Generation. He was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines. Eugene had a buddy named James C. Fisher, Jr., fondly known as Little Jimmy Fisher. Jimmy and Eugene met during basic training, discovering they were of different backgrounds and from opposite ends of the country. Over time, they formed a close friendship. Eugene and Jimmy served and fought together through several terrifying and bloody battles in Rio-Namur, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima.

Iwo Jima is located between the Mariana Islands and Japan’s mainland. It was an important defensive position for the Imperial Army and consequently of great strategic value to the Allied troops. Japan had long worked to fortify the island with concrete bunkers, a complex system of tunnels, and heavily armed positions, both offensively and defensively.

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America First Offers Leading-edge Card Security You Control

John Lund, President, America First Credit Union

By John B. Lund, President & Chief Executive Officer

I recently spoke with an America First member who was concerned about the rise in credit and debit card fraud. He enjoyed the convenience, simplicity, and advantages of paying by card, but was worried about his information being compromised at a merchant. Our member observed that some companies may be lacking the controls to properly protect his data, and he noted the surge in dishonest people who are all too anxious to rob him of his resources.

America First Credit Union and Visa® work diligently to protect you against fraudulent transactions, although the prospect of reissuing your cards and resolving disputes can be time-consuming and frustrating.

Imagine, then, the possibility of putting yourself in control of how, when, and where your debit and credit cards can be used. Think of how beneficial managing your cards in real time would be, giving you the ability to conduct transactions based on your location, the type of purchase you’re making, at which merchants you’re visiting, and at a dollar limit you’re setting. You’d also like to receive alerts notifying you when and where your card is being swiped, and be able to modify and change these controls as you see fit and while you’re on the go.

There is no need to use your imagination, because we now have this ground-breaking service available. Your credit union is proud to offer Card Guard, security you control™. This is another innovative first from America First, giving you anytime & anywhere card management.

It’s an exceptional safeguard and a flexible tool provided at no cost to our members. We appreciate and value your loyalty toward our products and services, and we are always looking for ways to add value and enhance your experience.

Download the Card Guard™ application inside free Mobile Banking for your iPhone or Android smartphone. You’re also welcome to search for Card Guard in the iTunes and Google Play stores. And be sure to visit americafirst.com for additional details.

We hope you enjoy Card Guard and continue to utilize all we offer for your financial well-being. Thank you for being a member and for the trust you place in America First. We look forward to a lifelong relationship.

America First Honors our Unique and Lasting Legacy

John Lund, President, America First Credit Union

By John B. Lund, President & Chief Executive Officer

Each spring, America First members gather to elect a volunteer Board of Directors to guide our credit union, renew our unique & lasting bond, and honor our legacy as a not-for-profit cooperative.

Held April 14, 2015 in Ogden, Utah, the 76th Annual Meeting continued the democratic tradition of voting for fellow members to provide us with direction and oversight. We were also fortunate to have civic leaders, representatives from credit union trade associations, and other dignitaries in attendance.

Board Vice Chair Barney B. Chapman, Chairman of the Board Elections Committee, oversaw the balloting, during which America First Board members Lyle B. Adams, Joy Jex and John D. Spease were elected to serve three-year terms. They, along with Linda Carver, Mr. Chapman, Edwin G. Cline, Kenlon W. Reeve, Michael R. Roden, and James G. Wendler are exceptional individuals on our Board who are dedicated to your financial well-being.

The Board subsequently chose their leadership following the meeting, with Mr. Wendler taking the role of Chair, Mrs. Carver serving as Vice Chair, and Mr. Reeve being Secretary.

Volunteers on our Board work exceptionally hard and without compensation to direct our organization in a provident and productive manner. That we benefit from the abilities of these volunteers is one of many admirable characteristics of our structure, and we are truly fortunate to have such a remarkable team working on your behalf.

We further owe a great deal of gratitude to our volunteers on the Loan Review and Supervisory Committees. The Loan Review Committee meets to conduct appeals processes for those seeking to resolve their credit situations and find solutions to financial challenges. The Supervisory Committee offers fiscal & regulatory review to ensure the credit union has judicious and sound programs, policies, and procedures.

In her remarks at the meeting, outgoing Board Chair Carver expressed appreciation to the membership for their choice in financial institutions, and congratulated the staff, management, and volunteers for their diligence in serving your needs in a remarkable fashion, year after year.

Mrs. Carver also reflected on the credit union’s strong performance across key categories in 2014 and assured all that America First, is safe, sound, secure, and stands as one of the finest institutions in the country. She further commented on our commitment to prudent growth.

I am blessed to serve with these volunteers and our remarkable team of more than 2,300 employees, who provide you and your families with the products and tools necessary to achieve financial well-being. We realize it’s essential for you to conduct business with the credit union in the manner you find most convenient, and we are a national leader in giving you anytime, anywhere access. Delivering outstanding service through all channels is of primary importance to us.

We additionally remain steadfast in promoting financial literacy, supporting schools and the communities in which we have a presence, and we will continue to pursue opportunities that facilitate the greater good through worthwhile causes, the America First Charitable Foundation, and other partnerships.

I am proud of what America First Credit Union stands for and the service we provide. I am especially thankful for your commitment to America First. We look forward to a lifetime relationship.

A Welcome to Spring and New Opportunities

John Lund, President, America First Credit Union

By John B. Lund, President & Chief Executive Officer

After winter, it is always a welcome relief to have spring arrive. It is a pleasure to witness the tulips and daffodils breaking through the ground, the trees beginning to blossom, and the song birds returning to occupy the trees. The season is a time of renewal and rebirth, and it’s appropriate that April is National Financial Literacy Month.

If your financial literacy and that of your family is well in hand, congratulations! If your skills in this area are marginal or somewhat lacking, maybe spring marks an opportunity to dust off the cobwebs, renew, and recommit to establishing and maintaining healthy financial habits.

Financial literacy involves gaining a set of skills, knowledge, and tools that allow an individual to make informed and effective decisions regarding their fiscal resources. It has been said that the best investment you can make is in yourself. Obviously, acquiring an education and aptitude in your field of choice can increase your earning ability, which is a key component of financial stability. The wise use of resources is equally important. More money doesn’t necessarily mean more happiness, comfort, piece of mind, or stability.

Jean Chatzky wrote a great little book: Money Rules. It is an easy read and full of relevant financial literacy and money-management tips. One of my favorites is “the best way to be comfortable is to be slightly uncomfortable.” This sentence speaks to the importance of spending less than you make and sacrificing current pleasures a bit to be better prepared for the future.

I am proud that our organization has a mission “to provide personal financial services of superior quality to the members/owners, our chief concern being their financial well-being.” America First works hard each day to achieve this goal, and no matter what phase of life you are in, the credit union stands ready to assist. We are proud of the financial tools, calculators, budgeting tips and information found on our Web site and within our Online and Mobile Banking systems. If you prefer face-to-face interaction, our people are the best in the business.

America First is active in the community and our schools, promoting financial literacy and sponsoring financial education events and activities. We hold financial seminars throughout the year and we invest in and distribute publications for youth, such as Be Money Smart. We established and continue to support the 100% For Kids Credit Union Education Foundation. We offer free financial counseling to members who may need it. We also provide a full array of financial planning, trust, and insurance services.

No matter the state of your financial health, it’s never too late to seek improvement. With spring comes sunshine and energy, and a good time to recommit to doing better. Thanks to each of you for your membership in and support of America First Credit Union. We continue looking forward to a lifelong relationship.

A Year of Celebration and Renewal

John Lund, President, America First Credit Union

By John B. Lund, President & Chief Executive Officer

To our valued members,

America First celebrated our 75th anniversary in 2014, honoring the pioneers who established what has become one of the strongest, most relevant, and highly trusted credit unions in the nation. To truly honor those who went before us, we seek not only to recognize their achievements, but continually strive to sustain and build on their legacy.

When the year began, an internal theme was established to complement our budget and strategic plan: Embracing Our Legacy. Now is Our Time. In this case, the word now stood as an acronym for no opportunity wasted. Our use of embrace implies the ability to receive gladly, to adopt, and to appreciate, a perfect choice considering our wonderful heritage. Now is our time signaled the importance of this institution’s entire team being actively engaged in making a difference in our members’ lives and meeting your evolving financial needs.

I am privileged to report that, in 2014, America First experienced an outstanding year in terms of serving the membership, achieving beneficial goals, and performing at exceptional levels.

Member satisfaction: Our loyalty, retention, and product utilization numbers are among America’s best. Our net promoter score — an industry benchmark for evaluating service quality — stood at 83.0% at the close of 2014, an extremely high figure and one few companies have attained.

Outstanding service through all delivery channels is of primary importance to America First, whether a member interacts with us at a branch, over the phone, online, with mobile devices, or by purchasing vehicles through local dealerships. We employ significant resources in training, monitoring, and feedback mechanisms to sustain and improve our service levels.

Financial stability & performance: America First is fiscally sound and rated among the best credit unions in the United States. We closed the year with $659 million in capital, up 15.85%. Our net worth ratio was 11.51%, rising from 10.05% in 2013. Our federal regulator, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), considers a net worth ratio of 7% to be well capitalized. We additionally received an unqualified opinion from our external audit firm regarding our financial statements.

Our financial performance proved to be superior in 2014. Net income totaled over $144 million. Assets surged by more than $511 million, or 8.71%, with return-on-assets (ROA) at a strong 2.32%. The ROA number was enhanced by excess allowance for loan loss dollars flowing back into the income line item.

Our membership continued to grow at a steady pace and was at 681,430 to finish the year. Deposits were up more than $384 million, or 7.37%. Our year-to-date loan growth was 10.48%, netting $421.6 million. Our loan delinquency rate fell from 2.11% to .80%, and the allowance for loan and lease loss account remains more than adequate to absorb any portfolio deficiencies.

We funded in excess of 14,000 mortgage and home equity loans, totaling more than $834 million, reinforcing our status as a premiere real estate financing institution. We take pride in helping families purchase, refinance, and upgrade their home investments.

Strategic growth & initiatives: New locations opened in Ogden, Saratoga Springs, and Tooele, Utah; and in Las Vegas, Nevada. We enhanced and upgraded our information-technology networks, as well as our free Online Banking & Mobile Banking systems. America First was the second credit union in the country to provide the Apple Pay service, and we were the first in Utah to deploy merchant-funded offers to members via our Visa® credit and debit cards. Additionally, the ability to generate vehicle loans through mobile devices was a first for financial institutions in the state. Mobile check deposits grew substantially and this is another example of our focus on convenience. With our person-to-person payment capability, you can transfer funds to whomever you choose, even if they aren’t America First members. We expanded our business lending capability, improved the business Visa credit offerings, and enhanced our mobile transaction system for business account holders. Our social media presence is robust and a valuable means of communicating and receiving suggestions. Many members have taken advantage of our outstanding financial planning, insurance, and trust services. Our commitment is to provide you with the best available products and services and give you anytime, anywhere account management.

We remain dedicated to improving our schools and the communities we serve. Examples of these efforts include supporting food drives, conducting our Warm The Soles of Kids holiday campaign, contributing to the 100% For Kids Credit Union Education Foundation, making grants through the America First Charitable Foundation, supporting children’s hospitals, and assisting so many other worthy civic and community causes. Further, our team donated countless hours of their personal time to service outreach.

Challenges and opportunities: The economy and consumer confidence, while slowly growing and improving, remain somewhat fragile. There is an uneasiness regarding monetary policy, government gridlock, high federal deficits, and world instability. There are, however, positive indicators, including improving real estate values, growth in the housing market, and strong automobile sales. Regardless of any larger economic conditions, members can be assured that your credit union is strong, vibrant, and determined to always have relevance and excellence in serving you.

Appreciation: America First Credit Union would not have achieved the strength and superior reputation we enjoy without the dedication and hard work of volunteers and staff. Our Board of Directors is elected by the membership and represents your best interests in strategic and policy decisions. The Supervisory Committee works diligently with internal and external audit firms to ensure our financial reporting is accurate, and that our fiscal position remains sound and secure. The Loan Review Committee provides an important appeals process for these decisions. Gratitude is also extended to our wonderful team of employees. They are truly passionate about this organization and serving our membership, whether directly or indirectly.

Most importantly, we express our utmost appreciation and commitment to you, the members. We thank you for your support, and we look forward to a lifetime relationship in giving you and your family financial solutions to improve your well-being.

Guest Commentary: America First Remains Committed to Member Needs in Evolving Economy

Glen Olpin

By Glen W. Olpin, Senior Vice President – Chief Economist

As the economy continues on its path toward recovery, credit unions are proving their value to their members and to every community they serve. At America First, we are dedicated to offering the finest products and services that meet our members’ needs during each life stage, no matter the larger financial climate.

We put this philosophy into practice during 2014 as economic conditions, both nationally and locally, evolved. Consumers seemed hopeful and optimism climbed. Indicators suggest that consumer confidence is now reaching pre-recession levels. Inflation is low and is expected to remain subdued throughout 2015.

Nationally, job growth in 2014 was fairly strong, as monthly payroll increases averaged nearly 251,000 jobs gained, indicating considerable progress. Utah, with an unemployment rate at 3.6%, boasts one of the strongest labor markets in the country. Nevada’s unemployment is above the national average at 7.6%, but is greatly improved from the Great Recession high of 14%.

Short-term market rates remained at record lows throughout the year and they are not expected to increase substantially during most of 2015. The declining-rate trend is likely to reverse course somewhat this year as the economy grows.

Across the U.S., housing data brings mixed results. Utah home prices increased by more than 10% on average last year. Nevada’s home prices have also seen double-digit increases over the past two years. Nevada real estate industry sales grew over 200% during the past 12 months and are expected to continue to gain ground lost during the housing crisis.

Personal income growth in this country has been low. Growth in personal income and jobs are considered key factors in a sustained economic recovery. However, consumer credit growth overall demonstrates that many have overcome their fear of borrowing. Auto sales have been growing for the past five years. In late 2014, the auto industry reported over 17 million units sold in one month, which was the highest figure since July of 2006. Projections are that automobile sales for 2015 will continue at close to these same high levels.

The national savings rate improved modestly in 2014 and that trend is expected to continue this year. We have launched a new program for members who are searching for greater deposit returns, those who require investment & insurance products, those needing assistance with planning for and living in retirement, and those who recognize the need to develop a roadmap for their financial futures. America First Financial Solutions harnesses state-of-the-art technology with a personal touch to make financial planning for your family and business a rewarding and beneficial experience.

We at America First are grateful for your membership and are committed to providing you with the highest-quality products and the best in service. Your credit union is strong, financially stable, and well-positioned to meet your complete needs. Thank you for making us your first choice in financial services.