First, I have to start off with a bit of gratitude. I know that we're already well on our way to the New Year, but I feel like I'm still running through my Thanksgiving list. I hope my message finds you with just as much to be grateful for.
Christmas came a bit early for me this morning, when I was honored to be named the 2016 Businessperson of the Year by the Triangle Business Journal. I was surprised and humbled by the award and words could never express how truly appreciative I am. While it's a tremendous honor to be personally recognized, I'm delighted to share this spotlight with my incredible co-workers and volunteers who make Coastal's success possible.
2016 was an amazing year for Coastal. I'm so proud of our team here and everything that we were able to accomplish for our members. In just the past few months we completed two of the biggest projects in my time with Coastal. In September, we switched our credit card processing to a new company, and reissued more than 50,000 cards. Just a few weeks later, we successfully merged Freedom Credit Union into Coastal, adding four branches and welcoming 8,300 new members. Both projects were difficult and complex, but I'm proud to say both were extremely well-executed and caused only minimal interruption to member service.
You may have noticed our name mentioned a lot more in the media lately. Since October, we've been running a campaign called Bank Better, an effort to tell the credit union story to a broader public. It began as a response to the Wells Fargo controversy, but has evolved into a way for Coastal to demonstrate how we provide an authentically better way to bank than the big national banks. So, if you have friends and family that are still banking with the big guys, invite them to check out Coastal and all we have to offer.
One of the ways we want to stand out is by being a good employer. That begins with a decent paycheck. So, Coastal recently implemented a minimum wage level of $12.50 per hour for all employees. The living wage rate for a single person in our marketplace to avoid poverty is $11.09 per hour. As a responsible corporate citizen, we felt it was our duty to help our employees by providing a higher minimum wage. This position is consistent with Coastal’s core values and allows us to attract and retain the best of the best employees in the business.
Looking ahead, I expect 2017 to continue to share good news and stories of accomplishment.
I'm excited to share that, effective January 1, Coastal is eliminating twenty member account fees from our fee schedule. This is nearly half of our published fees, and by making these changes, Coastal will forgo $600,000 in estimated fee revenue per year. As much as we enjoy giving back to our members, there’s something to be said for helping you keep more of your money in the first place.
Celebrating 50th Anniversary
The coming year is an important milestone for Coastal. On August 31, Coastal will celebrate our 50th Anniversary. Few businesses and even fewer financial institutions get the opportunity to celebrate this golden anniversary and we’re honored that you helped us get there. I’m eager to share the upcoming promotions and celebrations that will mark this anniversary. We’ve had 50 years of sharing and we know, with your support, we’ll have 50 more.
Lastly, some of you may have noticed that we've used a shorter version of our name in some of our advertising and community sponsorships. Starting in the new year, expect to see us increasingly refer to ourselves simply as Coastal Credit Union whenever possible. While our legal name will remain the same, we have found that the shortened version makes conversations a bit easier and the word “Federal” doesn’t help to explain our role in our local community.
Until next time, I hope that the holidays bring you meaningful time with friends and family, and plenty of whatever else makes your life enjoyable.
Wishing you the very best,
President & CEO