President’s Message

An Exceptional Year of Performance; A Vibrant Future

By John B. Lund, President and Chief Executive Officer

I am pleased to report that 2016 was another outstanding year. Your credit union remains safe, strong, well respected, and positioned for a bright and vibrant future.

To be part of a truly outstanding organization and team–that has among its core principles the mission to improve the financial well-being of its members, as well as the communities in which we live and work–is extremely gratifying. We strive to create meaningful relationships by providing relevant and affordable financial solutions for individuals, families, and businesses.

Significant milestones we reached include surpassing $8 billion in assets, growing to over 800,000 members, and opening new locations in Arizona and Idaho. America First is the 11th largest credit union in the nation in terms of assets and 7th most substantial in membership. While size provides critical mass necessary for a complex and changing world, I believe our growth and success reflects the fact that we offer consistent value, convenience, and high levels of service.

Additional highlights of 2016 include:

  • We opened new locations in Santa Clara, Washington, Jeremy Ranch, and Traverse Mountain, Utah; Summerlin, Nevada; Boise, Idaho; and Phoenix, Arizona.
  • Our first-of-its-kind Innovation Center debuted in Salt Lake’s City Creek Center, showcasing and giving members the opportunity to test and evaluate new technologies and services.
  • Superior service scores & measurements continue to be very strong and are among the best in the nation.
  • We improved call center systems, resulting in dramatic wait time reduction.
  • We received outstanding ratings and reviews from our external auditors and our federal regulator.
  • Member-selected personal identification numbers were made available.
  • A new & free identity theft recovery service was offered to those who use America First Visa® credit cards. This is in addition to our Card Guard® mobile security app that provides real-time credit and debit card control.
  • EMV chip-enabled Visa cards were issued for an extra layer of protection.
  • Our Visa cash-back cards featured a higher rebate level and we enhanced the free ABC Deals™ program.
  • New and improved loan and deposit services for business account holders were delivered.
  • We were again recognized as the number-one auto lender in Utah & the top credit union auto lender in Nevada.
  • Our tradition of being your premier provider of electronic services continued.
  • We developed engaging social media initiatives and demonstrated solid results.
  • Many educational programs for students and teachers in our schools were undertaken.
  • Our dedication to making significant outreach efforts to the communities we serve was evident, including the donation of time, means, and goods to those in need or those who require a helping hand.

As we look forward, you can be certain that America First will remain committed in our resolve to bring you the very best in financial services. I hope 2017 is a year of peace, productivity, and positive outcomes for you and those you love. Thank you for supporting America First Credit Union. We look forward to a lifelong relationship.

The Value of Positive Relationships

1.John LundBy John B. Lund, President and Chief Executive Officer

During my youth, the holidays and Christmas were modest, yet memorable times. It is a meaningful life lesson for me in reflecting back that I remember very few specific gifts. However, the inspiring sights, the wonderful scents, the delicious foods, and the fun I had with friends and family are precious, vivid recollections that stay with me to this day.

When she was preparing for the season, my mother made fantastic meals that would be enjoyed not just at one sitting, but for days thereafter. My favorites included macaroni & shrimp salad, three-bean salad, ham, rolls, cheeses, and her fabulous potato salad. Her date nut loaf was a much-anticipated dessert.

My dad enjoyed decorating our home, both inside and out. Creating this festive atmosphere in the outdoors was a big project that took considerable time. And I’m sure his having to keep after me to help slowed down our progress. When complete, the site was absolutely beautiful, especially after a fresh storm, with the lights showing through the snow and reflecting off the icicles.

To enhance the holidays even further, he built an outdoor speaker system so that passersby could listen to Christmas music. He played vinyl records on our hi-fi stereo from greats such as Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, the Andrews Sisters, Johnny Mathis & Andy Williams. I treasure these wonderful classics to this day.

All of my parents’ efforts to make these occasions special were put forth in the spirit of love and selflessness. In the process, long-term relationships and precious memories were developed and strengthened.

It’s truly the positive connection with others that enriches our lives in a relevant and enduring manner. While the relationships we at America First have with you as members can’t be quite this intimate, we do strive to make our services personal, meaningful, and lasting.

On behalf of our entire team of volunteers and staff, we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Please remember to pick up your free 2017 calendar at any of our branches. We thank you for your membership and look forward to a lifelong relationship in serving you and your family.

Gratitude for the Service of Others

1.John LundBy John B. Lund, President & Chief Executive Officer

On a recent visit to one of the country’s larger cities, I arrived several hours prior to my first meeting. With the extra time, I decided to go for a walk/run in an effort to get my daily steps in.

As I headed down the street, I came upon a small park with a three-lane, quarter-mile track around the perimeter, which made it the ideal place to exercise without having to deal with traffic, etc.

During my first lap, I noticed an older gentleman pushing a young man in a wheelchair who was mentally & physically disabled. The two were softly conversing, with the boy smiling and clearly pleased to have the company. On another turn, I saw the man massaging the shoulders and neck of his younger companion. The next time around, the gentleman had moved to a location offering a different view. This heartfelt interaction between the two continued the entire hour I spent at the park.

By himself, this young man couldn’t experience the basic joys of life many of us take for granted. Yet this kind gentleman intuitively perceived how he could help the boy savor this valuable time outside on beautiful warm afternoon.

As I made my way around and around the track, time seemed to pass much more quickly as I forgot about my minor aches and pain by focusing on the beautiful act of service I saw. I felt a powerful sense of gratitude toward this gentleman. It was inspirational witnessing such thoughtful and tender service. This motivated me to think a little bit less about myself and to be more sensitive to the needs of others.

During November, we celebrate Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving. Hopefully, we can all pause to recognize and openly thank those who have served this country and those who are now defending our freedom all over the world. Gratitude is a simple yet powerful force for good and we can always be generous in displaying it.

I hope each of you has a wonderful season. We appreciate your membership in and loyalty to America First. We look forward to a lifetime relationship.

Find the Hero Within

1.John LundBy John B. Lund, President and Chief Executive Officer

What is a hero? Are they like characters we see in movies with supernatural skills, fancy gadgets, or special outfits?

As part of an internal initiative, we brought in a group of kids ranging in age from two to 10. We posed a series of questions to them regarding the concept of heroes and recorded their responses. The wisdom and honesty of children is inspiring. To follow are excerpts of our inquiries and their answers.

What is a hero to you? Someone who protects you. Someone who does good things and serves others, [who] helps people and is nice to them. Someone who is kind and generous. Fights bad guys and saves the day. A person [who] is there when you need them.

Why do we need heroes? [To] help people when they are down. To protects us. To help us live happily. To put fires out. Protect our city. To save the day. If you are sad, you need a shoulder to cry on.

How do you become a hero? Being nice to people and picking up trash. Protecting people. By cleaning up my brother’s room. By doing what’s right. By being friendly and nice. Helping my friends and keeping them safe. Telling the truth. Being a friend to those [who] need a friend. You don’t need super powers to be a hero, you just need to help people.

Who is a hero in your life? Mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, military guys, firefighters, police, Jesus.

Why are they your heroes? They give me hugs. Helps me when having trials. Makes a bad day a better day. Taught me to swim. Protects [us] from bad stuff like smoking. They are kind, sweet and loving. Does the dishes. Helps me understand problems. Loves me. Stands up for what’s right. There for me all the time.

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Summer’s Final Holiday & Heading Back to School

1.John LundBy John B. Lund, President and Chief Executive Officer

Our family enjoys getting together for an unofficial reunion over Labor Day weekend. We celebrate at Bear Lake, a beautiful mountain body of water that straddles the Utah and Idaho border, known for its brilliant blue color and sandy beaches.

We enjoy spending time at the lake, playing games, hiking in the mountains, attending a local melodrama, and participating in a small golf tournament. It is a wonderful holiday, offering us the chance to gather as a family, mark the end of the summer season, and give our children and grandchildren an opportunity to revel in the fun before heading back to school.

While I’ve always been mindful of Labor Day’s origins, this year I wanted to learn a bit more. Looking it up with the ever-trusty Wikipedia, I discovered the following:

Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day weekend and it is considered the unofficial end of summer. It became an official federal holiday in 1894.

I am impressed by this passage: “[Labor Day] honors…the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country.” Individually and collectively, we all benefit from the vision and hard work of so many people who have made our country the strongest in the world. It is certainly appropriate for us to think about and recognize generations of American workers on this special day.

In like manner, I would like to honor the contributions you as members have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of America First. Our credit union is a cooperative that depends on and serves its members. Thank you for your loyalty and for trusting us to be your partner in this endeavor.

Our volunteers and staff will continue striving diligently to provide you with great service as we deliver relevant products and services that can help simplify your busy lives and keep you financially healthy. We look forward to a lifelong relationship with you and your family.

Our Shared Success

2.Rex Rollo

By Rex Rollo, Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer

We have always understood that any success America First Credit Union achieves is the direct result of our members successfully developing and maintaining financial well-being.

As we help members improve their financial position in both favorable and unfavorable economic times, America First has continually experienced strong growth, despite the market’s ups and downs. The first six months of the year have been no exception.

The credit union continues to see exceptional progress on all fronts, as membership, loans, and deposits exceed budgeted projections. Because members are encouraging family, friends and neighbors to join America First, we have experienced double-digit expansion in this area, making us the fifth largest credit union in the nation based on membership.

Our ever-growing family of members continues to take full advantage of an expanding array of products and services. Through our 120 locations, call centers, free online banking, free mobile banking, and thousands of ATMs offering service at no cost, America First completes millions of transactions each month through whatever channel our members choose.

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Heroic Story from World War II Inspires & Humbles

John Lund, President, America First Credit Union

By John B. Lund, President and Chief Executive Officer

One of the things I appreciate most about America First is the people with whom I am privileged to work, such as Thayne Shaffer, our senior vice president & controller. Thayne shared with us the story of his grandfather, who served during World War II as an engineer in a B-24 bomber. It is a heartwarming description of service, teamwork and patriotism that his family has kindly allowed me to relate to the membership.

Ray Albiston was born on January 10, 1913 in Whiskey Gap, Alberta, Canada. In his youth, Ray worked as a ranch hand on both sides of the border. He eventually moved to Elko, Nevada, where he became an American citizen and met & married his sweetheart, June Nielson.

He entered the Army Air Corps on December 28, 1942 and was trained as a flight engineer on the B-24 Liberator. Thereafter, Staff Sergeant Ray Albiston was deployed to El Aouina, Tunisia with the 15th Air Force, 450 Bombardment Group, nicknamed the Cottontails. He flew in 37 missions over some of the most dangerous and challenging air space in the European Theater. Thirteen were considered so perilous that he and his crew received double credit toward their 50 required missions.

On June 24, 1944, Ray and his crew found themselves facing heavy opposition over Germany’s strategic and heavily defended oil installations in Ploiesti, Romania for the second time. About this conflict, his Silver Star citation reads, in part: “…approaching the target, their formation was attacked by approximately 50 highly aggressive enemy fighters and their aircraft was severely damaged…systems were rendered inoperative and the waist gunner seriously wounded. Despite the crippled condition of their aircraft, displaying outstanding courage and teamwork, they battled against overwhelming odds, bringing their ship through for a highly successful bombing run.” Of the 39 planes in his group, 10 were lost and others went missing. On August 9, 1944, he and his fellow crew members received the Silver Star. Ray went on to fly in 27 more missions.

Ray’s magical mission number of 50 was eventually reached and, on October 22, 1944, June received the following via Western Union telegraph: ARRIVED IN U S A, FEELING FINE, HOME SOON, LOVE TO ALL, RAY.

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The Innovation Center is our New & Interactive Service Experience

John Lund, President, America First Credit Union

By John B. Lund, President and Chief Executive Officer

We’re excited to introduce our new Innovation Center, located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake’s City Creek destination. The America First Innovation Center will not function as a traditional branch; rather, it will be an engaging and collaborative hub, showcasing advanced technological solutions for multiple service channels. Members and consumers who wish to learn more about America First will have a greater voice in shaping their experience in the future.

Our partners in the project are industry leaders in financial services, providing the latest in cutting-edge tools. Examples include:

• Remote experts — Members can interact with trained staff regarding a wide range of products and services through enhanced 3D, face-to-face video conferencing.

• Self-serve tellers — These units can take deposits, facilitate withdrawals, print money orders & cashier’s checks, and can supplement or replace existing teller stations. They are ideal for members seeking the functionality of a teller with the ease and convenience of an ATM.

• Smart-touch tables — The devices will demonstrate our variety of apps and offer hands-on guidance for our suite of free Mobile Banking products. Members can also engage with 55-inch multi-touch monitors and 3D models to discover more about America First’s great offerings.

• Community Corner, with two 65-inch monitors displaying our extensive social, community, and educational involvement.

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Members Exercise their Democratic Credit Union Privileges

John Lund, President, America First Credit Union

By John B. Lund, President and Chief Executive Officer

For 77 years, America First members have voted to elect a volunteer Board of Directors to provide strategic and philosophical guidance that ensures our credit union’s safety, soundness, and ongoing ability to deliver financial value.

This democratic exercise takes place at our annual meeting, which was held April 19, 2016 in Ogden, Utah. Joining us were local officials, credit union & industry representatives, and community stakeholders.

Lyle Adams, Chair of the Board Elections Committee, oversaw the balloting, during which America First Directors Barney Chapman, Kenlon Reeve, and Michael Roden were elected to serve three-year terms.

The Board subsequently chose their leadership, with James Wendler taking the role of Chairman, Linda Carver being named Vice Chair, and Mr. Reeve filling the position of Secretary.

Our Board members give tremendously of their time and talents, serving without compensation, to benefit the organization. They are truly dedicated to improving the economic health of each and every member we are fortunate to have.

I would also like to express my gratitude to our volunteers on the Loan Review and Supervisory Committees. The Loan Review Committee meets with members who were initially denied financing. They work to resolve adverse credit situations and find solutions to challenges. The Supervisory Committee works with internal and external examiners to provide fiscal & regulatory review.

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Value, Service, Strength, and Soul

John Lund, President, America First Credit Union

By John B. Lund, President & Chief Executive Officer

It is my privilege to thank each of you for your support, loyalty, and trust. We at America First endeavor each day to provide relevant, affordable financial products and services in a convenient, professional, and personal manner.

On behalf of our volunteers, leadership team and staff, I am honored to report that America First experienced an outstanding year in terms of quality service, adding membership value, achieving strategic objectives, and superior financial performance.

Value — We strive to help our members keep more of their money in their pockets and to help simplify busy lives.

To that end, we offer free checking, free Visa® debit cards, free 24/7 account management through numerous channels, and free access to 43,000 ATMs. By using Visa from America First, members earn merchant-paid discounts and cash rebates, which are in addition to the cash back or rewards gained through existing card programs.

Further, free counseling is available to members seeking a helping hand with budgeting or setting a new financial course. We provide free credit scores, hold free educational seminars, and offer free document shredding events throughout the year.

We are proud to provide services that meet your diverse needs, including Visa credit cards, mortgages and home equity loans, auto & RV financing, personal loans, business loans and services, merchant services, and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. Additional offerings include investments & insurance, trust services, and a full complement of savings vehicles, including money market accounts, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), health savings accounts, and certificates.

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