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Ukrainian Credit Union’s AGM Talks Growth and Elects New Board Members

Apr 25, 2017 | Community, Featured

New Pathway.

In its 73rd year, Ukrainian Credit Union Limited looks as unstoppable and forward-thinking as ever. At the AGM on April 18, UCU’s shareholders found that the Credit Union last year increased its assets by almost 4% to $741 million. The well-attended AGM focussed on such things as continuation of financial advancement, implementation of innovation and product enhancements, support of the community at home and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine in the time of war.

Canadian lending institutions have felt pressure from low interest rates for several years now. It thus came as no surprise that UCU’s net profit dropped somewhat, from $2.2 million in 2015 to $1.5 million last year, also due to the added costs associated with the supplier-initiated banking system migration. But, overall, the Credit Union’s financial indicators have shown an optimistic picture of growing non-interest revenues, increasing deposits and loans to members, and stable and healthy capitalization indicators. The community is growing together with its Credit Union: last year, UCU received 49% more credit applications than in 2015.

Over the past year, UCU was quite successfully adapting to rapidly evolving technologies and new financial service industry paradigms. The Board and management were paying particular attention to meeting the needs of the millennial demographic and thereby helping secure UCU’s future. In 2016, the Credit Union upgraded its Mobile App and introduced Deposit Anywhere to it; streamlined personal loan approvals; and laid ground work for Personal Financial Management option via the Member Direct internet banking portal.

Supporting Ukrainian and wider Canadian communities has always been UCU’s key objective. In several cities in the province of Ontario, the Credit Union is the only Ukrainian financial institution and thus is an important part of the community’s infrastructure. The list of cultural, educational, recreational, religious and humanitarian organizations and causes, which received help from UCU in 2016, took several pages of the Annual Report that was distributed at the AGM.

Ukrainian Credit Union Limited has been a long-term supporter of Ukraine’s independence and has recently stepped up these efforts. In line with the tradition, the shareholders recommended that the UCU Board donate dividends on membership shares to reputable Canadian or international organizations, such as the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and Ukrainian World Congress, in support of Ukraine’s fight for independence and democracy. Among the events held in 2016 with the assistance of UCU was the Ukrainian War Veteran’s Association of Canada’s evening to honour the military officers leading the now recently renewed Canadian military mission to train members of Ukraine’s armed forces. For several years, numerous UCU personnel have worked tirelessly as volunteers in the “UCU Helps Ukraine” initiative, gathering member and community donations for disabled veterans undergoing treatment in the Lviv Military Hospital, as well as for the widows, orphans and families of Ukrainian soldiers who did not return from the front in the Donbas. To date “UCU Helps Ukraine” has provided over $145,000 in humanitarian assistance.

UCU Director’s elections were the AGM’s high point – there were six strong candidates for four available seats. A short, but intense, period of wondering, which followed the voting, finished with the announcement that Andre Sochaniwsky (current Chair of the Board), Walter Kish (current UCU Director and New Pathway’s long-time columnist), Dr. Natalia Lishchyna and Taras Rohatyn were elected as Directors.

For the two new Directors, it is the first time they are elected on the UCU Board. However, both are not new to the world of banks and credit unions. Dr. Lishchyna previously worked for and served on the Board of Directors of the United Ukrainian Credit Union Ltd. in Hamilton. Meanwhile, Taras Rohatyn has a background in banking (Scotiabank) and commercial credit (Roynat and the Federal Business Development Bank), and has been a UCU member his entire life.

Natalia has been an active member of the Ukrainian community in Hamilton, Mississauga and currently where she resides in Oakville, Ontario. She was a member of the Ukrainian National Youth Federation and a dancer with Chaika Dance Ensemble. Professionally, Natalia is trained as a Chiropractor, has completed a Clinical Fellowship and a Masters of Science degree. At the Ontario Chiropractic Association, she has been a Board Director for 14 years and President from 2011-2013. In 2015, Natalia was elected to Oakville Town Council (Ward 6). As a Member of Council, she currently serves on several Committees. She said that she is eager to use her previous board and leadership experience to help shape UCU’s direction through sound strategic planning and governance. As a Director, Dr. Lishchyna would like to focus on reaching new milestones in membership growth, membership satisfaction and profitability.

Taras Rohatyn has an extensive history of involvement in the Ukrainian Canadian community. He is currently the Chair of the UNF Foundation, as well as the President of the Oshawa-Durham Branch of the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada. He is a past Director of the National Executive of the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada, and a past President of the Sudbury and Windsor UNF Branches. Taras is also a past Vice-President of the Ukrainian National Youth Federation, National Executive as well as the retired choreographer and instructor of the Windsor Barvinok Dance School and Ensemble and the Sudbury UNYF Veselka Dance Ensemble.

Taras wants to use his experience especially in the human resource field and his knowledge of corporate governance to assist the UCU Board in enhancing its existing policies, processes and procedures. He also wants to ensure that UCU continues to focus its programs on the Ukrainian Canadian youth and the new immigrants from Ukraine, “as this is the UCU's future”, he said.

At the AGM, the head of UCU’s Scholarship Committee, Slawko Borys, announced this year’s recipients of various UCU scholarships. This year, UCU Community Leadership Awards were awarded to: Olena Bolonna (U of Toronto, Doctor of Medicine Program), Borys Ostapienko (McGill University, Biomedical Engineering), Kassandra Stefanyk (St. Mary’s, Bachelor of Science, Major in Biology) and Natalie Tershakowec (U of Ottawa, working towards her JD). The Board Chair’s scholarship was awarded to Natalia Stepanyuk (U of Ottawa, PhD in Political Science). The Eugene Roman Scholarship (established at last year’s AGM) was awarded to David Szlachtych (U of Guelph, Master of Bioinformatics). Melanie Zaraska (Dartmouth, Bachelor of Arts in Economics, minors in French and Economic) received the Wasyl Sytnyk Memorial Scholarship. Rana Solianik (U of Toronto, Masters of Occupational Therapy) received the Michael Rebryk Memorial Scholarship.

Future seems to hold promises for further development of credit unions in Ontario. Over the past several years, UCU played an active role in consultations with the Ontario government to amend the Credit Union’s and Caisses Populaires Act. As a result of the consultations, deposit insurance coverage for credit unions will increase from $100,000 to $250,000 and their business powers will be widened to serve municipalities, syndicate loans with credit unions in other provinces, and to own insurance brokerages. The AGM showed that Ukrainian Credit Union Limited is well set to benefit from new opportunities.

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