Message from the CEO.

Christine Bergeron, President and CEO
Christine Bergeron

2022 was a year no one had anticipated. The global disruption of supply chains and stock-market volatility that began during the pandemic were made much worse by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Combined with the ongoing impacts of the climate crisis, such as the impact of extreme weather events on the supply of produce and agricultural products, this resulted in surprisingly rapid inflation, recessionary pressures, and aggressive interest rate increases.

Members acutely felt these economic trends, especially in the second half of the year. Grocery bills rose, our dollars stretched less, and for many people, financial choices became more challenging. Most of us felt the stress of living through volatility and change.

At Vancity, while we carried much of our remarkable 2021 performance into 2022, market conditions slowed our performance as the year progressed. We still had a strong year in many respects, for example, finishing ahead of our targets for operating earnings and net lending growth. But we also needed to recalibrate and adjust.

The good thing is that we’ve been in unpredictable operating environments before and have navigated them successfully. The same principles and strategic planning that helped deliver our 2021 results – especially putting members and communities, and our values, at the centre of our work – continued to guide us through the year.

We took a measured business approach with our key performance targets, prepared for more unusual scenarios, and built in both buffers to absorb financial shocks and flexibility to adjust. For example, we increased our reserves to protect against an uncertain future.

We also shifted resources to enhance our support of members and communities through times of uncertainty. We invested in our employees’ ability to advise members and identify solutions for their financial needs. And we trained more than 80 employees to be Wealth Relationship Managers, enabling them to provide members with basic financial planning and investment solutions.

We are continuing to develop innovative new products, or upgrading existing ones, to better fit members’ evolving needs, with a lot of this work driven by affordability and equity as core elements of the transition to a net-zero economy. For example, members can now receive free expert home energy advice and rebates for EnerGuide assessments, in addition to Planet-WiseTM loans for many projects. Non-profit housing providers who are members now have access to specialized grants focused on emissions-reducing retrofits. And in January 2023, we became the first in Canada to introduce a feature to our credit cards that estimates the carbon footprint of purchases.

We also strengthened our investment in the resilience of our communities. Some examples include our strong investment in affordable housing and banking support for displaced Ukrainian refugees. We continued to deepen our Reconciliation work and Indigenous partnerships, which will be helped immensely by the Progressive Aboriginal RelationsTM (PAR) certification program we committed to in 2022.

One of my proudest moments in 2022 came when we were named in the Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.”

Our employees remain a priority, and one of my proudest moments in 2022 came when we were named in the Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers. Our commitment to empowering employees and our support of employees’ mental health, in particular, have recently been spotlighted by media. I am thankful to our employees who continue to serve our members and communities with a full and compassionate heart.

As we move through 2023, we expect unpredictability and unfavourable market conditions to persist, at least initially. But we will continue to navigate these waters with members and communities as our compass. Because, as a co-operative, this is what we do. But also because – as Board Chair Rita Parikh says in her report – our values-based and people-centred approach is purpose-built for the times.

This distinct approach is what makes us different from other financial institutions. Like other financial institutions, we’ll continue monitoring longer-term drivers to be as prepared as we can for whatever financial changes may come. But we’ll also continue to be our members’ best financial partners, work hard to understand and respond to their needs and challenges, offer innovative products, and constantly improve the experience of banking with us. And we’ll continue to invest in enabling and empowering our employees to do all this and serve members as best they can.

Signature of Christine Bergeron

Christine Bergeron
President and CEO