America First Credit Union Kicks Off 2015 Growth With Opening of Lehi Branch Location

Riverdale, Utah – America First Credit Union will welcome residents of Lehi City with the opening of its newest location at 1238 East Timpanogos Highway in Lehi, Utah on Monday, April 6. The new branch is the 110th location for the credit union servicing Utah and Southern Nevada.

The first branch opening of 2015, the Lehi branch signifies a strong start to the year for the credit union.

Michael Crossley will serve as branch manager of the Lehi location. Crossley began his career with America First Credit Union more than 30 years ago in 1982 when he started at the Ogden Main location as a loan officer trainee. He moved to a management intern position before becoming assistant branch manager at the Layton location. Crossley was then promoted to manager of the Cottonwood branch and also served as manager at the West Valley branch. He has served as manager/market manager of the Orem location since 1993.

With much experience in the credit union industry, Crossley boasts extensive education in many facets related to working in a credit union, including accounting, economics, management and credit union collections. An Ogden, Utah native, Crossley is married to Lu Ann Jordan Crossley and together they have seven children and 14 grandchildren.

A grand opening ribbon cutting will take place on the morning ofMonday, April 27 with celebratory events held April 27 – May 2. The branch is located at 1238 East Timpanogos Highway, Lehi, Utah 84043. Branch hours are Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

For more information, visit www.americafirst.com, America First Credit Union on Facebook, Twitter, @AmericaFirst on Instagram and Pinterest.

Security Update: Digital Spring Cleaning

To keep your electronic life safe & secure, you can take advantage of the following tips to remove clutter, upgrade technologies, and perform a digital spring cleaning.

1. Get rid of excess files. Go through all of your folders, including the recycle bin, and discard items no longer in use.

2. Organize all forms of media in labeled folders.

3. Streamline your desktop so it isn’t inundated with icons that slow boot-up times.

4. Uninstall programs you never or rarely initiate, reducing the potential for malware.

5. Update your passwords by making them unique, never the same, and having different characters/numbers.

6. Back up important data on a flash drive or with online storage.

7. Consider reinstalling your operating system after everything is backed up.

8. Update your Internet security software with antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing and firewall applications.

9. Defragment your hard drive.

10. Don’t forget your mobile device. Double-check your smartphone and remove unneeded apps.

And be sure to visit us here for information regarding how your credit union can help you guard your resources.

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.

America First CU Helps Special Needs Students Purchase Snow Boots in Financial Literacy Activity

Riverdale, Utah – A true proponent of the credit union philosophy of ‘people helping people,’ America First Credit Union donated funds for snow boots to the students of Transition Academy at Jordan Valley School on 2/3/15. In a learning activity created to teach the students about financial literacy, each student received a VISA gift card for the purchase of snow boots to be used for upcoming school field trips.

Most students in the Transition Academy at Jordan Valley School, which is Canyons District’s school for students with severe disabilities, had never before used a credit or debit card to purchase goods at a store. With a little help from teachers and aides, each student was able to approach a cashier, present the item they sought to purchase and complete the shopping transaction with pre-paid Visa cards provided by America First Credit Union, one of Canyons District’s valued community partners. 

“The learning activity was a complete success,” said Robin Collett, Canyons District’s director of special education. “The thrill of accomplishment was evident in the bright smiles of all the students who were able to participate.”  

Canyons Transition Academy provides students with disabilities the opportunity to make choices in a safe environment with person-centered planning, hands-on training, community access and inclusion in community activities that lead to greater independence for living and employment.

“Thanks to America First Credit Union, which generously sponsored the shopping trip, the students didn’t just get the gift of a new pair of boots that they can wear while learning to ride public transportation, go to the library or visit museums,” said Collett. “Through this experience, they were given a chance to learn some important financial literacy and independent-living skills that are necessary to become productive participants in the community. We can’t thank America First Credit Union enough for helping us to help our students in this way.”

Security Update: Don’t Fall Victim to Cybercrime

The proliferation of online & electronic scams isn’t slowing down, but there are ways you can avoid becoming a victim.

It’s always a good idea to take the following steps to prevent theft and enhance your safety:

  • Create different passwords for all of your applications and change them frequently.
  • Don’t leave your home computer on all the time — it’s like leaving a door unlocked.
  • Think before you click. Never blindly open attachments or links.
  • Use free antivirus or protective software.
  • Add a firewall to your system to prevent unauthorized users from gaining access.
  • Report any fraud attempt to us by calling 1-800-999-3961, and be sure to file a complaint with the FTC.
  • Regularly check your accounts with free Online & Mobile Banking.
  • Visit us here to see how we’re working to safeguard your resources.

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.

America First Credit Union Rings in 2015 with Several Promotions

Riverdale, Utah – America First Credit Union is charging into 2015 with the announcement of several internal promotions. 

Internal promotions include Randy Halley and Rich Syme to executive vice president. Tammy Gallegos, Paula Kenny, Thayne Shaffer and Kent Streuling have been named as senior vice presidents. Bob Bodily, Kris Distefano, Scott Ellis, Randy Hunter, Missy Key and Dave Stacey have been named as vice presidents.

“We have many outstanding employees that are prepared to take on additional responsibilities, and we’re excited about the opportunities created for our employees in these new roles,” said John Lund, President and CEO of America First. “These advancements will allow us to continue to service members with the upmost quality as we anticipate our growth in the coming year.”

In addition to the above promotions, the following organizational changes have been made:

New divisions within the credit union have been created, to include the Compliance and Credit divisions. The Compliance division will encompass the following departments: Compliance, Legal and Loan Portfolio Management. Sharee Dickey will serve as vice president. The Credit division will include Collections, Special Collections, Recovery, Counseling and Troubled Debt Restructuring. Susan Chadwick will serve as vice president.

The following organizational changes will take place in conjunction with Chad Tanner being named as vice president of the call centers: Annette Cave has been promoted to manager of the Lending Service Call Center. The newly-named Member Service Contact Center will be managed by Farrell Poll.

Security Update: A Resolution for Electronic Safety

With the arrival of a new year, it’s a good time to assess your cybersecurity and keep yourself safe. To follow are some tips for doing so:

  • Sift through all of your electronic files, organize them, and delete those that are outdated or unnecessary.
  • Back up your data to a secondary internal or external hard drive. You can also take advantage of cloud-based services.
  • Reinstall your operating system to get rid of clutter and malware. Your machine should then run faster.
  • Familiarize yourself with all of your devices so you can maximize their functionality and security.
  • If you haven’t already, invest in antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing programs, and firewalls — or upgrade these if you can.

And please take the time to check with us here to see how we’re working to provide you with protection throughout the year.

Stop, Look, and Listen

 

John Lund, President, America First Credit UnionBy John B. Lund, President and Chief Executive Officer

Many of life’s most valuable lessons are learned in our youth. One example was taught to me at an early age by my mother. When we approached a street on foot, she would hold my hand tightly and say, “We must always stop, look, and listen before attempting to cross.”

In her wisdom, she knew that children often run impulsively and streets inherently present many dangers. She also understood she would not always be there to safely guide me. My mom was well aware that I would have many journeys and destinations that required me to cross countless streets on my own, and I would need to make stopping, looking, and listening part of a consistent daily routine.

Stopping allowed me to pause, become knowledgeable of my surroundings, think, plan, and stay alert. Looking in all directions, I could see any approaching vehicles, bicycles, or other possible dangers and distractions. Listening enhanced my ability to make good decisions. I could hear approaching vehicles that may have been obscured by vegetation, parked cars, or other obstructions. Sirens or other sounds would make me extra cautious.

This simple concept that I took to heart is very powerful and has applications well beyond crossing a street and arriving at a destination safely. Indeed, it can be applied to many decisions we make and other aspects of life’s journey. As we begin a new year, the process of stopping, looking, and listening can be helpful, productive, satisfying, and even transformative.

Stop or pause to ponder your situation. Plan a better course for yourself, or think about how to assist someone else. Have gratitude for the good that surrounds us. Stop a bad habit or negative behavior.

Look and be observant. Appreciate the beauties of nature and our surroundings. Look for the good in others and within our great country. Take advantage of opportunities to learn something new or improve a talent you possess. Look for simple ways to serve others or help someone less fortunate.

Listen for and create opportunities for improvement. Assess possible danger signals in one’s health or relationships with others, and make corrections as needed. Listen for and recognize the positive aspects of life and focus more on them.

At America First Credit Union, we are renewing our commitment to meet your complete needs by focusing on these simple steps. We will stop or pause to think, review, plan, create, and recommit ourselves to the highest standards of service, product excellence, and integrity. We will continually look for ways to improve, innovate, and establish ourselves as your only financial institution. We will continue to listen, engage, and gather your feedback to remain relevant to your financial well-being.

Your friends at America First are grateful for your membership, loyalty, and for allowing us to meet your complete financial needs. We appreciate your trust and look forward to a lifelong relationship with you and your family. We wish you a joyous, meaningful, and productive year in 2015.